Monday, July 30, 2018

Shanmugam habit of stoking fear

English conceived in England but given away and owned by the world. Shanmugam is over reacting. Just ask any of our school kids and they will tell you that ASEAN scholars speak and write better EL than scholars from the PRC. A few years later when in our local universities they have not closed the gap with their ASEAN counterparts. Shanmugam confused high averages against the top down hand picking of a handful for competition purpose.

So what is the meaning of "China has caught up"? This is his cheapskate attempt to proliferate fear and increase pressure. To me he is the most intellectually dishonest minister regularly succumbing to the temptation of convenient arguments and theses, exploiting the ignorance of the masses.

I hope people can see the link between stoking fear among our people and public policy making. Fear is a very useful device for justifying brutal and often painful policies. "We have no choice..." does that not resound and echo inside your craniums? We must not tolerate fear mongering by our leaders. We should demand intellectual honesty first and always.

Update: 4:29 pm

This is a valid fear and not the Shanmugam's nonsense.

See story at Today.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Opportunity Costs of Parking is unacceptable

These are American numbers by Dr. Richard Florida. He is the guy who brought us the idea that creative cities are tolerant of gays. I am not aware if there are any equivalent numbers for Singapore but can easily imagine that year after year of economic growth can only raise the numbers towards the sky. Economically we will eventually pay too much for parking on real estate that is simply too valuable for cars. Society is subsidizing those who drive.

The long term future for car ownership is bleak. It will be a shared asset so that we can release a phenomenal amount of land by taking them away from parking.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Good bye to an ex colleague

Yesterday an ex-colleague sent me this. Yea Yee is the first in our orientation batch from the early 90s to go. May he rest in peace but I think he left us way too soon. I always thought he was our age. Turn out he is a few years older. He was a very nice and helpful guy, a high flyer in the company.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Cyber warfare against us: Offence is the best Defense

This could never appear in our media but in cyber warfare offence is the best defense after we have further strengthened our defenses. The most important objective after the attacker have gotten what they wanted is to cover their tracks in order to avoid retaliation.You never provide others with a justification for attacking you.

In cyber warfare if you attack others you better be sure you are very strong and they are afraid to attack you. There are far fewer such countries than there are fingers in a hand. Now even if you are a very hard target, the retaliating country only need to keep up with watching you for the opportunity to hit you. I think when you pick small nations like Israel or us to attack, you are making a big mistake. We are the sort who will give you a memorable experience because that would discourage you from trying again which is what we want. We are not some developing country with limited capabilities living in fear where lying low the be best defense against attack.

Dental Calendars

Went to the Dentist today as we have since the kids were old enough. These will calendars be useful when the time comes for me to make the next appointment.

The highlighted dates are the clinic days for this outlet.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Risks: Should it be a common pot?

Whilst people could accept that the healthy young pay less premiums they cannot accept that men pay less than women. There is always the option to putting all risks into a common pool. The result is the young and male will pay more, the old and female will pay less. Society has to agree which is best. This is a zero sum game. This is also one of those moments we search ourselves on what our values are. We have almost never done that. The government have typically make the choices for us.

Personally I think we ought to pool the risks. That is the meaning of one people. No point if lofty words are not backed by real money.

The young discover the plot against them

Were Peter Drucker still alive, he would not be in the least surprise to see such poll results. As for me, I get to see them at first hand and coming away with a very bad feeling about this. It is not too late to fix this but there is always the risk the old idiots in power or simply as voting blocs continue to rob the young to pay the old.

Our government is probably the least guilty at robbing young Peter to pay old Paul. Our personal accountability system helps a lot e.g., CPF. Pay as you go system is ideal for transferring wealth from the young to the old. Meanwhile the old having arrived a generation sooner command most of the attractive positions in the economy, calls the shots and the millennials suffered as a result. To add insult to injury, in fact this is the worse problem, the elites erect impossible barriers of entry against the rest even as they succeeded at sucking up the lion share of capital.

The elites are a global class and they have been blackmailing us and naming their price. The euphemism for blackmail is that if are not competitive they simply decamp to another city. So the choice we have is between a bad choice (like now) and a worse one i.e,. high unemployment. On the flip side despite their impractical idealism which the young need time to realize they are by and large much better schooled. They can leverage their intellectual superiority but first they must leave the rock they are living under.

The government is caught between a rock and a hard place with very little room to maneuver. That its senior officers are also deemed to be part of the elite certainly do not help. They are afraid to offend the global elites and is squeezed by unhappy young people and disenfranchised older workers because of the "taxes" of the elites. As people do not know the plot of the global wealthy they blame the government for being out of touch. Well this game of the rich getting richer cannot go on indefinitely. The sooner we pull back the better. The rules of the game is set in America and that is why that poll chart is most relevant. We are price takers in this game and are trying to mitigate its effects as best as possible. Our young is not doing as well as their parents if comparison is made after adjusting for time and place but they are doing much better than their counterparts almost everywhere else save the offspring of the elites and that include the children of ministers.

Meanwhile our elites try to pretend to be normal by eating at hawker centres and scolding those who are higher on the totem pole. That is just hypocrisy.

If the young in America, Europe and China lose faith in this system what would they replace it with? They are setting up themselves to learn through bitter experience if they lose faith in capitalism. Better reform capitalism instead of throwing it out of the window. Now is that realistic if capitalism reputation keeps worsening.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Being watched by Google Intelligence

This morning interested to find out which is a better day to visit the Gardens by the Bay, I learned from Google Map the dates in the last three months were there. That is Google Intelligence and what else would they do when they combine all sorts of factoids about you to "form a picture". Perhaps eventually it could even tell me things from my habits which I am not even aware of.

Big Data is about insight from massive data. In this instance their data on me is even better than what Gardens by the Bay have because Google Map had even tracked how I got there, when I left. Did I drive or took public transport and where I went after the visit to the Gardens until I was back home.

Job interview with SIA

Yesterday before her turn to speak to the interviewers at SIA the daughter messaged me the above: in round 2 they need to bring their own Notebook PCs for the interview.

When she finished her discussion with them she had to do two written tests and was told that SIA will not provide her any writing instrument and hopefully she has brought her own pen.

SIA has become shockingly cost sensitive. They do not care that job candidates would tell others about this. Personally I think this is sad but it is also intelligent and targeted cost cutting. Most MNCs would simply have cut cost blindly across the board.

All things equal would a girl marry a rich or poor guy? SIA is the poor guy now. Not a problem if you have to bring your own computer for a job interview but it is a problem if they try to pay you as little as possible after you join them. You marry for love but do you join the company for the same reason?

Update: July 14 11:15 am

Good to add this, the chat with my siblings yesterday.

Are we looking at a trend which SIA is just an early participant? Costs are getting squeezed everywhere. People are no longer assets except to themselves.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Cave rescue heroes

The cave rescuers insit they are not heroes - something to remember always. This takes me to the parable of the Goats and the Sheep told by Jesus.

Blaise Pascal put it more succinctly as:

I speculated how Pascal might have come to that conclusion.

There are four possible types of people given the righteous and sinners in a 4x4 matrix

1. sinners who think they are sinners
2. sinners who think they are righteous
3. righteous who think they are righteous
4. righteous who think they are sinners

Those in Group 1 will quickly become either Group 2 or 4. The time in Group 1 is very short because we can't live with it. Christian conversion is supposed to take you from Group 2 to Group 4 via Group 1 but very often they return to Group 2 instead with a new label of Christian.

Group 3 does not exist on our planet except when Jesus was here in human form and even that he humbled himself and acted like in Group 4 beginning with John's baptism out of his love for us.

Back to the cave rescuers, they are heroes who think they are not. They really are.

Finally here is a dramatization of someone who had become righteous but continue correctly to think himself as a sinner.

John Newton the composer of the song Amazing Grace. He was Jesus Sheep and he was Pascal's the righteous who think they are sinners. Without that reality lives are not change and Christian conversion or being born again is just self and mass delusion.

Singapore's next and beyond Meritocracy

If technology was the problem then the answer is more technology. This is what the record has shown for mankind's story up to this point.

If economic growth was the problem, the answer may not be more growth but more even growth.

Meritocracy may be in between what technology and economic growth is to us. Enlarging meritocracy is distributing meritocracy more widely, better said as not just levelling the playing field but enlarging it as well.

We are the product of yesterday's meritocracy. It has served its purpose and allowing it to persist will end up defeating its reason for being. The way forward is to disrupt the present meritocracy with more meritocracy which cannot be done before. Our current meritocracy creates many more opportunities for meritocracy as long as we are not wedded to its present form. We must move on to make the playing ground larger and more level. It may not be completely level and in some places, especially the old grounds, it may remain steep, but the field should be a much larger so that in very uneven grounds people have the option to move away to large level fields.

Yes, we should maximize technology to make it possible and practical. After our first full cycle with meritocracy we must recognize our future belongs to periodically and may be eventually continuously disrupting, remaking and especially enlarging our meritocracy.

Trump: the vulgar Reagan

He is damn vulgar alright but no Reagan. May be hidden there is some. To me he fails the kids test and that makes him unfit to be president, which does not means he cannot be effective. Given the peculiar circumstances he could be. He is just a very bad example and not a model for children as a future president or even a decent human being. There is no future in his values and mindset.

America spend about 3.7% of its budget on defence, so this 4% on Nato is not a target but a direction for spending. Past presidents have not succeeded at getting US allies to do their part who are very familiar and well schooled in saying No to the US. This bully can get many things out of the allies but it is disaster if every president after him behaves like him. History is littered with examples of such cautionary tales against badly behaved hegemons. A good example would be Babylon versus Persia. For the long term future of America, Trump must become a useful and unwitting fool to be sacrificed and destroyed after what he has done the dirty and nasty work because he cannot be a model for future leadership. Unless of course if America by now has turned into one huge hypocrisy. I don't think so, Obama proved that.

Would history suggest in the next few years, America was lucky to have him for president but he was damn unlucky to be president? Perhaps this will end with him in jail after he leaves office but a future president is likely to pardon him. He will likely get away but wear disgrace for the rest of his life.

Premature to assess but he just might be very useful disposable cutlery.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

"Nutty Genius" - Elon Musk

At a Whatsapp group chat a few days ago, someone posted this.

and my response.

A couple of days later, I found this either at NYT or WSJ

"Minisubmarine" that is the noun a hyper salesman would use. More like an underwater life support capsule which an engineer would more accurately describe. Between the engineer and salesman in Elon Musk, the salesman won. Meanwhile I can imagine our girl saying, "Don't call me inane, I told you a minisub is doable!"

Face palm! Our society is stuffed with technology and even more tech tomorrow. We need to make Science more accessible to those who aren't inclined. They need to be better informed as voters.

Update: 8:50 am

Just found this Today story. It also has a clip on how the mini-sub works.

Update: 3:35 pm

I don't think I would make those remarks much less hold just views about Elon Musk after reading the Guardian story. Methinks Kausikan read too much into Elon Musk character. Whatever, the Thais clearly on hindsight had done the right things all the thirteen would not have been alive and well now.

Update: July 14 3:00 pm

So I was right to call Elon Musk "Nutty" but now I can call him nutty instead

Trump is not trying to remake the world order

That one line in the Bloomberg email caught my eye.

I don't think Trump is isolationist. He is indeed nativist but most important of all he has a less generous sense of what is fair to America. He is not trying to remake the world order but making it fairer for America in the sense that other countries typically would have insisted. He doesn't believe in the burdens of leadership, only the spoils of hegemony (bad). The rest of the world losing this is unwilling to concede and exaggerate his intentions and the damage he is causing.

Domestically and misinformed the American public is shifting towards Trump that the world has been unfair to America.

Passing of Mrs. Wee Kim Wee

Spotted this in the ST yesterday. I thought they had forgotten. Well better a little late than never. They mustn't miss this when they have a school named after Wee Kim Wee in NTU.

He is our only president we sometimes visited at Mandai Columbarium. The next time we will see both of them resting in peace side by side.

My "newspaper cutting" on July 7. NTU couldn't find a better photo that this. Just as well. Nice to know you have chosen the best. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Mahathir - Putting in his own people

He is putting in his own people so that when he has to step down as PM, he will still have the influence needed to get the new PM to do his bidding. This is also what a reitring general secretary of the CCP does as well to assert his will.

It is always the same as old as the hills trick. Using words to mislead people, twisting words to mean different things and taking advantage of their wrong understanding. Every dishonest politician make this as a matter of habit and honest ones try their best to avoid.

Mahathir self delusion is that his agenda is Malaysia's agenda. From that he can no longer separate the two and cannot change. Best for Malaysia to just make use and then get rid of him in a hurry. Among those who understand this best are the rulers.

Unlike the past, Mahathir is the devil we know and age will rid him for us but there is no telling there would not be another Mahathir like character some day. I never imagine the Trump in America today would be the last either. All these are matters only of when. We need to survive them all.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Forget about passion, start with being curious

It is just fortunate that most kids do not know what their passions are other than play, which pull they have to develop the discipline not to succumb to temptation.

My children wonder if they have strong passion about anything at all. Sure they find some things more interesting than others and spend more time with those. Overall I have always encouraged them to be curious, to have many questions and try to find answers to as many of them as possible.

Then I told them you can't discover your passion by thinking or even sitting under a tree and meditate. Your best chance of identifying your passion is to live fully, be adventurous and always stay curious by being eager to learn and wondering how all the pieces of your discoveries fit together.

Next learn to be competent in as many things as possible and if you discover that you master certain things more easily than others, focus on those even if at the expense of others. Your passion might be hidden there. If not, at least you are likely to be well paid for it because you are beating most people at it.

Leave passion alone by finding meaning in what you do. There is a good chance that you will get both, if not keep looking for more meaningful things to do especially in those which you can increase your competencies in.

You are likely to find your passion not upon discovery but looking back. For many it is just a matter of time they realize their family and close friends are what they are passionate about.

In the end it is about people and everything else is just the means for that.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Singtel fiber broadband down

Last October Singtel had a 24 hour outage which I have forgotten and tells me I need to make a record of it here. Yesterday their service was down for more than three hours in the morning. A savvy user given his technical background knew he might his luck solving the problem by switching DNS servers. That 23 year old undegrad mentioned in the story, he should have used his phone to connect to the Internet. It pays to be an intelligent and informed user especially when you know such incidents had happened before.

Work wise Singtel likely have scrimped on maintenance and monitoring - the business is not doing well. If not then on inadequate training and supervision since they have ruled out a cyber attack, an area of expertise they are investing heavily in these days.

Is Singtel doing a SMRT on us? Well the last big service failure was less than a year ago. We shall see if the next one is measured in months or years. It should be almost never except for few brief minutes, which should also be very rare.