Friday, March 30, 2018

Shanmugam vs Thum Ping Tjin

No way I have the time not only to sit through this but also pay close attention to the to and fro between Shanmugam and Thum. What I came away is the ways lawyers and historians differ from each other and I get tempted to consult Karl Popper on the limits of knowing. This is a waste of time!

What is fake news and what is falsehoods? While we are not talking about the shape of water here, this is actually much harder than that. Water will take the shape of whatever container you pour it into but truth which is to be practical often mixed with some off-truth may or may not assume the shape of the container you pour it into.

So Shanmugam wanted to pour his collection of facts but without explaining what he chose to omit, Thum did the same as well. Once into his lawyerly containers and the other into what credible peer historians do for their discipline. Spare us we the people all these or we would have become lay lawyers and historians ourselves.

Good luck if you want a just law against fake news and being clever not to be clear and defined what is the objective of this law except in the broadest motherhood terms. Afterward those in power can use it to legitimize their use to protect and advance their power.

The problem between me and you the government is a simple and old fashioned one: Can I trust you? I don't think there is straight forward answer to that. The context and God forbid the nuance is necessary to answer that question.

Shanmugam was the driver and Thum his hostage passenger here and the minister was wasting our time!

Update: 2:15 pm

That is from a friend's Facebook page. I have known her for many years now but didn't discover how prejudiced and racist she was until Trump became a presidential candidate.

People do anything they want to news. The article by Newsweek was slanted to attract readers but by no means wrong or irresponsible because the writer eventually cleared the air. People just want to read what their hearts want to confirm. This person deny the global climate is warming and among many things insist Obama was not born in America. Oh yes, she loves Trump and to her the Donald can do no wrong.

My point? People pick their facts and join the dots they want. They can be highly disciplined like Shanmugam and Thum were or patently stupid like this friend.

Update: 2:25 pm

I am just dismayed with this bunch who commented on her post. Clearly none of them read the Newsweek article.

I have also given up trying to persuade people that are like that. The heart is more powerful than the mind. In fact it directs the mind. Nowhere is this more obvious than in financial markets. Generally we are somewhat or very crazy and somehow we got by without blowing up the world.

Update: 9:50 pm

A whole new level of faking is just at the edge of the horizon. Only a matter of time more people are capable of doing this. Here is an example of making photo realistic fakes of Obama speaking which is impossible to tell. How do you deal with such challenges? What use are fake news laws against the march of technology.

Read more at Synthesizing Obama: Learning Lip Sync from Audio SIGGRAPH 2017

Update: April 3 12:05 pm

Just got that from a friend. If Shanmugam had done a good job, there would not be an opportunity like this to lampoon him.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Josephus Tan mistake with the PAP

Clearly Josephus Tan can add diversity to the PAP the largely monolithic mix but what a clumsy party the PAP is. The many leaks, especially the public ones only stoke cynicism among us. What a huge gap between the talk and the walk. This can only reinforce the perception that they are always screwing us behind our backs. My understanding is admin service officers and ministers area always playing heads I win, tails you lose to entrench themselves forever in power. This is not the way to grow courage or skin in the game. Facing voters who do not have an alternative during elections is not skin in the game.

Even with the huge margin of safety they have gotten for themselves, Josephus Tan was still beyond their comfort zone.

The war goes on: LGBT vs Conservative Christians

On the surface it doesn't look like the LGBT community is attacking anti-LGBT churches. It becomes clear when I read the article (Lou Engle: An American Threatens a Christian-Muslim Divide in Singapore) alluded to in this story.

It was nice to see Lawrence Khong and his gang avoiding any action to publicly provoke the LGBT community but forgiveness and graciousness is not part of those on the LGBT side and they have taken this opportunity when a perfect excuse became available to borrow the government's knife on them. To me that is the main story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Racial Balance

I read no more than 10% of this Natgeo story on race in America. That is all the time I could afford. The thought circulating in my mind all the time is a multi-racial place like ours, we have taken care but without shouting about it, not to upset the racial balance here. We may not be able to survive the social convulsions the Americans are living through right now.

Let's watch this ongoing American experiment. There are rich lessons for us.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Nothing new here: Singtel sucks

For years now, we all know Singtel sucks. We have usually managed to deal with them quite successfully though. It is the papers and social media we got to learn how bad their service is.

The secret to "staying safe" with Singtel is to keep your business simple, engaging them with the sales and service processes which most of their customers need them for. If you do that you are OK. Unfortunately that formula did not work for me a few days ago.

Yesterday, I waited a whole day for the SIM card to arrive to no avail (see their email above). Today I called them and as usual after almost half an hour wait, I was told it would be coming to me in the mail and the card is set for activation on March 28. I asked them why didn't they say so in the first place?

Moral: Avoiding transacting online with Singtel.

The last time we tried buying Office 365 for the family, we had a lot of problems until it ended with them offering wifey, "a thousand apologies". That month we didn't even receive our regular bills from them.

The reason for this blog post is I forgot Singtel sucks. Now I will remember for a long time and act defensively to protect ourselves.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Friendship: The one who never left

He is not the only one who ignores me. On my part I usually do not remember either after a day or two. I just do this for each one of them, The majority are more polite and usually return with "Thanks" or "Thank you"

“Friendship isn't about whom you have known the longest... It's about who came, and never left your side. ♥”

This has been going on for decades but only this morning I decided to blog about it. The children are now old enough to have made and lost friends at least a few times over. I want to impress upon them to be the one who never left. On this I have told them so many stories. I have even shown my parents' and my wedding photos and asked, how many of these friends have left. 

This is the spirit of the Gospel. 

To be practical sometimes you have to be quite silent because that is how they prefer it. You don't want to be a pest but you always as much as possible try to learn how they are getting on. Occasionally out of the blue one might asked for help and I never said no.

What I said no to are those who wants to meet up socially. I have no time for that. They loved to used such occasions to talk about frivolous nothings, complain or an opportunity for humble bragging.

Update: 9:40 am

Guess what? All the years of patience was worth it. I just got a word of thanks. But even if I do not, I will still keep doing it. It's the spirit of the Gospel. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

This is what inequality look like in Singapore

There are 40 copies of this book, "This is what inequality looks like" and 105 reserves. Thumbs up to the intense interest in this subject but I am also worried about the simplistic solutions the public is likely to entertain and then the half-hearted attitude the government always have towards poverty. They are forever nagging us about the need to change mindset but perhaps the greatest imperative for a new mindset is on their end.

I have not had the chance to read this book but based on Han Fook Kwang's essay in the ST today, it hinted very much like what I had read countless times in the US. I even have a friend in such dire straits. For a while she was on the verge of being homeless. Countless times she almost didn't manage to get into a shelter and that would meant sleeping in the streets.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

UOB Internet Banking dongle

DBS Bank was better. When my dongle no longer worked they replaced it on the spot. Activating the new dongle was a breeze.

After more than 10 years my UOB dongle display is almost invisible. When I took it to the Holland Village branch, the officer told me I had to wait five working days to get a new dongle. She told me she was aware that DBS replaced it on the spot but at her bank they are not able to do the same.

Whilst driving I got a call from the UOB officer. She discovered we are "Privilege Banking" customers and offered to move our cash to a higher yielding product. I told her I am only interested in moving the money to another bank. Also I never signed up for Privilege Banking. They sent me the forms but I never signed and returned them. Then one day, we were "Privilege" customers.

What I wanted from them are very simple things, done conveniently and efficiently. Now I wonder would I have gotten the dongle on the spot if we told them we were ":Privilege" customers. I can't imagine the much higher class Private Banking would not have a dongle replaced on the spot.

No matter, I can't imagine staying with them for another ten years for this dongle's display to fade.

Well the story didn't end here. When I got my dongle, I failed to activate it when I followed the procedure correctly. Apparently I needed to wait ten minutes for the system to get updated but there was nothing to advise so. I thought something was wrong and I called customers service for help. The call lasted more than ten minutes. The problem solved itself.

So what good is UOB  to us? The queue at their ATMs is almost always shorter than DBS/POSB.

Stephen Hawking and Christians

My ex boss shared this with me in an email and I looked it up on Bloomberg.

It was a very good read by Nathan Myhrvold but then I thought of what Christians had in the past remarked to me about Prof Hawking: he is going to hell because he is an atheist.

I took the opportunity to share these thoughts in my reply to her email.

Incredible spirit Stephen Hawking had. No wonder it took so many years for his illness to knock him out.

On some occasions Christians have pointed out to me that Stephen Hawking is going to hell because he is an atheist. I wished these people would first care about their own fate before worrying about others. Being the celebrity he was I wasn't surprised to just Googled and find this at Time:

Well I think not a few atheists would wake up from death into heaven. I don't know which ones. I am less sure about Christians though.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Bullying in Parliament

A friend sent me this, the Facebook post by Tan Cheng Bock: Be gracious in parliament.

PAP MPs and Ministers have to bear this in mind, carve it on their hearts as well. If you bully defenseless others, the public will take it out on you. The merit of your logic becomes lost and irrelevant. As politicians you have failed badly even if you may be able administrators.

I have written in this space many years ago that politicians must be politicians and not try to be civil servants passing themselves off as politicians and political leaders, worse as moral leaders.

As persuaders they get a failed grade from me. What is the use if you have workable plans (I don't think anywhere near the best because they lack courage) but cannot sell it to the people. It is as good as you have no plan.

These PAP types are so full of themselves, so arrogant and condescending to others. Sure, they happened to also been known to be humble but it is all show and no substance, often choreographed. These are not humble folks. They have no idea what humility is, which unfortunately is too rare anywhere in this world. Therefore they succeed with "having no airs" which is just show-humility to be the real thing. Even their president is on this.

I feel sad for Singapore. The PAP have gutted and gamed the system that we have no choice but them. This moral corruption could potentially end Singapore's success. These self serving creatures starting from the PM who are in the dark of their hypocrisy. How else can they live with it right? But the public is not fooled.

This is the failing fourth generation PAP leaders. Can't they learn anything from DPM Tharman?

Update: 8:50 pm

I just came from reading Indranee Rajah's post on this matter. I never said the PAP were wrong about the facts or they were bad administrators but they are lousy politicians and communicators. The following are some of the response from the public to her post and see the number of likes on them.

Indranee and her colleagues must be puzzled why people cannot be persuaded. Well they are out of touch. That is the challenge they must learn to overcome. You are a politician and not a civil servant. Your logic is sound but so what?

Long ago, Sim Wong Hoo made the better MP3 player but it was the inferior but also quite good Apple iPod which won the day. Sim was too much of an engineer just as you PAP types are too much of a civil servant. As Philip Yeo advised, let the civil servants get on with their jobs and you better learn to be better politicians.

The trouble with you PAP types is that you are just like the lumberjacks who after many years of successfully cutting down trees look at every problem as you have always viewed them. But you are no longer lumberjacks so why are you still working your old jobs in your newer roles? This is the ultimate evidence of poor accountability in our political system that you can get away with such. Of course we voters would not tolerate this.

So it was never the merits of your logic but your arrogant and bullying attitude we are faulting.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Harder to make it on YouTube now

It was almost ten years ago when I felt something like this would happen. YouTube had decimated my neat little DVD enterprise and I had switched to picking advert dollars than direct sales. Not as good but it saved me much time preparing discs to ship out.

A few months into this I decided this thing is only going to get harder and I am likely to look back and feel that it was not worth it. I had no idea how it might happen but I am sure some day it would. You know, you can fall from the sky with a parachute or free fall. Whatever, you are falling to earth and that is good enough for me to decide this is not the path to take.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

$2 health screening

Not bad at all! Paid $2 for the health screening at the community center with folks from NTFGH people doing it. Afterward we were each given this. This is much better than what we got back in 2015.

I couldn't finish and that is my secret of passing all these health screening and before employment health screening test. People eat too much and beyond the limit you body becomes a dustbin and a recycling plant.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Rehabilitating William Farquhar

Got to return this to the library in about two weeks time, wondering how I am going to find the time to even read half of it. I could only read at most a chapter thus far and that was when I was so tired and needed a break. Some serious break indeed.

William Farquhar reminded me of Wu Zetian whose reputation was also rehabilitated when further evidence was unearthed. Unlike Empress Wu, MG Farquhar redemption has come much sooner. I think Farquhar is out of luck though because Singapore is heavily invested in Raffles legacy and myth making. How are we going to deal with this? Especially next year is the 200th anniversary of Raffles founding of Singapore