Wednesday, December 31, 2014

iPhone 6 Plus arrives

The iPhone 6 Plus I ordered on Sunday for wifey arrived today. Went to POPstation to pick it up saving me the $8 delivery fee. Now we have to shop for at least one really nice phone case. In the interim she will use a simple plastic case. I have also installed a tempered glass screen protector on the phone.

Everything has been backed up to iCloud. Tomorrow she will begin the new year with a new phone after restoring her stuff from iCloud to this phone.

Morning pretty green spot

Took the opportunity to un-mount the Note 4 from its holder and shot this picture while waiting for the light to turn green. There are so many pretty spots on this island only because we tend it carefully as a garden.

Several HDB blocks used to stand here but they had all been demolished. I presume they moved the residents to some of the new blocks near by.

Last night rat in a trap

Rats have been pretty much of many people's minds recently no thanks to what happened next to the Bukit Batok MRT station.

I found a rat caught in a trap when I went to buy milk late last night. This is an intelligent creature who was showing no interest in the bait and trying to figure a way out. There is none except that at this time of blogging, I suppose death would be its only escape.

In an alternate reality, if nature had its ways predators would have kept their numbers in check. That's life.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

PM shares article from Japan Times

The PM shared this on his page yesterday from the Japan Times. It is a graphic way to explain to us what our tomorrow might be even if he conveniently ignored if it was even appropriate to compare the two societies in the first place.

Just as the homogeneous Swedes were never a society that is naturally accepting of asylum seekers and immigrants from other cultures, which they are learning the hard way; so the lessons from Japan may not be the right one for us. Beyond the old and the young, we have many fault lines across race and religion, and increasingly between the haves and have-nots. Some of these potential problems could be bigger and over shadow the rupturing relationship between the young and the old.

So what if we read this story? Are we going to do anything differently? Everyone rushing home to make babies? Everyone asking for more immigrants to come in? It's not happening as surely as the threat of a bad and earlier death visit those who refuse to kick their smoking habit. So this was a story to share with his colleagues, but pointless for citizens.

I bet the Japanese reading this story in far greater detail in their own language are only going to talk about and do nothing.

Government should spend more time bolstering their courage and ability to persuade people to accept necessary even if tough policies like we had in our early days than be order takers and populist.

Sad is the day when some of us decide the only way forward for those us with the means is to protect ourselves.

This is the constant refrain of Hstory that people everywhere are always looking for leadership but they regularly did not know how to say so because they often thought that was impossible. Without good leadership whole societies resigned themselves to sad fates.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Wasting time speculating QZ8501 disappearance

We are watching a very human need to explain what had happened to Air Asia QZ8501 here. Rationally all these speculation by experts are a waste of time. I have also learned to ignore most of the news flow on this topic until they are able to find some wreckage or something more hopeful.

Every air traffic incident is not suppose to have happened. That is why speculating causes is not meaningful. Any probable cause would have been preemptively dealt with. All air incidents are mysteries until we have collected, analyzed and understand the causes.

Malaysia has been thrice unlucky. What's the probabilities of getting three hits in a row within one year? Meanwhile many of them have been displaced by massive flooding.

Singapore had only one two year old passenger on board that aircraft. Although that seems extraordinary, the human cost as expected is multiplied. Her father despite being a Briton is functionally as good as one of us. We also mustn't forget her mom and older sibling. We know the link does not stop here. Think grand parents.

Confidence in civil aviation remains high but doubts have grown markedly about Malaysia's ability to keep up with the rest of the industry in safe air travel. The man in the street cannot think in probabilities and six sigma bad luck is not good enough reason for many to fly Malaysia. Our neighbor really had a tough job ahead to restore confidence.

At the personal level, we flew with MH to Osaka last year and I would avoid them if possible. Ask yourself what is the probability that in a single flight more than two families lose their luggage? It is just the sloppy way they do their jobs.

Update: Dec 30, 10am

From the FT today. Which is a clearer version from a practitioner my hunch about this incident. You can tell me air travel is getting safer and have the data to back it but to me that is looking back and ignoring the ever changing environment, which may have finally hit the tipping point. The most bottom line conscious, sloppy and gun slinging airline run the highest probabilities of disasters.

Update: Dec 30 4:55pm

How would families feel to receive such news? For me it is the horror of suddenly feeling alone in this world that hits me and knock me over. I am referring to the 15 year old Indonesian student. She had just lost her entire family to this crash.

In a way you don't mind if news is delayed if only to sustain the hope that there are survivors. But if this wears on for too many days, by then you want closure (think MH 370)

I don't care how Tony Fernandes is handling this. This is not the time to score his performance. Something like this should not have happened in the first place.

Update: Jan 1, 10:45pm

Update: Jan 2, 10:15pm

162 victims is too many to handle and without consciously choosing, the family that I root for is this one. May be it is secret nightmare of leaving a child behind. Of course you don't think it is going to happen. 

Just 15, Chiara Natasha lost her entire family in the tragedy.
Chiara's parents and two brothers were flying to visit her in Singapore, where she had just moved in early November to study on a Singapore government scholarship.
The family had sent her off from Surabaya airport less than two months ago, promising to visit her to celebrate New Year's and help her settle into dormitory life at the Methodist Girls' School, said her aunt, Linda Patricia.
Chiara, a petite teenager with long black hair, had flown back to Surabaya herself on Sunday — the day Flight 8501 went missing — and waited at the airport Monday and Tuesday for clues about the plane, praying hard that her family had survived.
News that some wreckage from the plane had been spotted and six bodies retrieved left Chiara in shock and she kept crying when relatives tried to console her, her aunt said. Chiara didn't come to the airport on Wednesday.
Her older brother, Nico Giovanni, 17, has been studying in Singapore since last year. He had returned to Surabaya for year-end holidays and was due to start his new term at the St. Andrew's Junior College, said Linda, who has been with her niece since her return.
Chiara's father, Herumanto Tanus, was a 46-year-old accountant and Linda's youngest brother. Her mother, Indahju Liongsih, was a homemaker.
Chiara's younger brother, Justin Giovanni, was 9. Many Indonesians use one or two names but no family name.
"We are all heartbroken and Chiara still finds it hard to accept" her family members' deaths, Linda said. "I am thankful that the plane has been found. My only hope is that all their bodies will be found and evacuated no matter what the condition is so that we can have a proper closure."
She said Chiara has agreed to eventually return to Singapore to study as she didn't want to disappoint her parents.
"In Singapore is her future," Linda said.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Running out of Hard Disc space

With only 173GB left on my current 1 TB Passport I upgraded to a 2 TB one today. Never mind it is fatter than the latest offerings, after all I don't carry it around.

Each time I get myself a new hard disc, I feel (not think) it would last "forever". Couldn't be more wrong!

Tharman's family holiday in the Caucasus

Just caught this by Tharman on Facebook. He and his family were on holiday in the Caucasus but much of his thoughts were picking up the lessons of history for Singapore. Reminds me that to succeed in political leadership, it must become your obsession. An impossible job without a very supportive family. Most wives wouldn't be so supportive and husbands are worse.

I spent all my time on our recent US holiday trying to make sure everyone had fun and my secret to enjoying the trip is to forget myself and delight in the nice photo opportunities.

America provides too much information. You can plan everything to the atomic level today compared to just three years ago when we were last there. Suddenly you have the power to make things as good as possible but not more time to achieve that. That was my challenge and I was tired all the time.

The Caucasus is an old place steep in history and tragedy. I had read about the places from the Christian history perspective a few years ago. I agree with Tharman that the politics of the region did not have religious causes but it is the same age old issues over all time and places. As I read what the ang mohs did to the native Americans in the Yosemite region, played for higher stakes and more terrible brutality are the same forces that washed over the Caucasus over and over again. To have a long history is to also have many periods of tragic sadness. The take away for tiny Singapore from history lessons is not encouraging. We must never think of making Singapore last indefinitely and only keeping it good for ourselves and children continuously. You got to think long term and yet no so in order to be adaptable to avoid trouble and seize opportunities.

It is only a matter of time that moment when we run out of wiggle room will eventuate. That is why I had often blogged here that we need people of foresight to run this place. Such leaders successfully influence the making of a benign external environment long before they become obvious to most. Good institutions are a boon for most nations but far from good enough for us. Sadly we are not very good at selecting good people. This is a global problem.

Update: 9:40am

One is obsessed with keeping Singapore going, this one is preoccupied with getting everyone a proper loo to use. Most of us are just tied up with making a living and some just trying to keep their heads above water!

Arriving on Christmas Eve

Landed at Changi in the early afternoon of  Christmas Eve after an exhausting holiday in the US West Coast. Never felt so glad to be home!

This trip to the US felt so different from our last one in 2011. America felt less welcoming to Asians despite the government effort to make immigration and customs more friendly, they cannot compensate for the unfriendliness you could sometimes feel on the streets. Even my famously color blind kids felt and told me about it several times. I can't help feeling the PRC Chinese have spoiled it for all of us with their deplorable anti-social habits. No wonder their President had taken to publicly scolding them on this matter.

People are much more in a hurry now and often impatient.

On the other hand we had some of our best photos on this trip in part because we finally dared to drive into Yosemite in winter. I prayed we didn't need to put on those tire chains. They were rented and I am not even sure if they would fit!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

PM: Branded vs Neighborhood schools

The PM lauded two top scoring PSLE pupils for choosing to enroll in a neighborhood secondary school than a branded one. The question on many of our minds is this. Would he when the time comes encourage his grand children to do the same? l doubt it. If my guess is right it would be better that he had not posted those comments to Facebook. Better to leave people alone to make their choices. Better to encourage people to try and if not successful to manage their disappointment positively.
I think in the end parents must research and choose the right rather than a branded school for their children. I am quite sure RGS wouldn't be suitable for my girls. The elder girl probably won't have aced her A levels at RI and more important make the right friends and the right experience.

Update: Dec 22, 9:10 pm

I should have this in the main post but we are on holidayand blogging is the low priority.

Remember LKY didn't send the PM and his siblings to RI, ACS etc. They went to Chinese stream schools. That's was a powerful message.

Whatever happened to saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Credibility is slipping. The need to read between the lines is getting more important just like everywhere else eh?

We fly home tonight. Always better to have a real keyboard to use.

Coach Handbag

Picked out this handbag for wifey yesterday at Westfield Valley Mall in San Jose. Coach bags are much better value for money here than back home.

I think I have often been good at choosing handbags for her.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lessons from killing rats

Bring in the commando pest busters,  inform the media and show Singapore society that the authorities are doing something and acting quickly. Then wait a few months when people complain on social media which cannot but also find its way to the ST, repeat the cycle calling in the exterminators again.

If you are not motivated to get to the bottom of the problem once and for all, just paying contractors to do this is also kinda of solving the problem.

So what's the problem?

It is when public servants are easily rattled and frightened by us. They are too hasty  and not interested to do a fundamentally good job. Unless the PM looks into the matter nobody solves problem for long term and sustainable results.

Confident leadership is gradually turning into order takers and people pleasers. We are becoming like elsewhere.

Carmel Mission: A depressing place

We have been around these parts several times over the years but never visited this place. This time I had ignored my hunch and we came here yesterday.

In photos the place is beautiful but all of us feel a heavy spirit sitting on us while inside. We had to pay to get in, so might as well just look around. When we finally got out, the feeling of release and uplift was palpable.

The Forbidden City in Beijing was a more tragic place than here but we enjoyed the place and learned much. On the other hand this place feels haunted, tragic and self defeating.

Scholarships & your mind

Scholarships do strange things to the awardee's mind he is rarely aware of. He stopped looking for a job because he is already bonded to an employer. Unlike most of his classmates, he is secure and uncurious. I was hoping Sandra Davie would finally add this observation so many of us passed our youth are aware of.

Why go checking and learning about other opportunities especially entrepreneurship when you are already committed to an organization? Mentally the world of these scholarship holders shrink. The younger this happen to you, the worse off you will be,

In the end people often choose to be secure than to be adventurous. I am not sure I want my children to be risk adverse. In the bigger picture we are producing so many risk adverse leaders with this system. Even if we are successful, we are also becoming more fragile. A few exceptional ones at the top cannot make up for the deficit of the rest. Top leaders will find themselves pushing against a wall of the majority of lesser scholars. At the personal level these people are also boring and predictable.

Before us the top leaders might appear bold using spin doctors. Behind us they were unaware simply acting their programmed from young code to play it cleverly safe. Sadly each time they try to stray off the beaten path they also fail to appreciate the risks they were running with predictable results. Not all of us can put our fingers on this but many of us can sense that the quality of public administration is falling. I leave other more motivated bloggers to enumerate the long list of examples.

Written half way round the earth at 4 am in the morning without a keyboard.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Has the power tripped?

No, I could tell by connecting with our WDLive disc at home.

Before we had this there was no way to tell until we are back home from our trip abroad.

I am writing this from Yosemite national park.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Scholarships Realities

Now I have numbers to give form to my hunch about this matter. At the atomic level my daughter was one of those who didn't bother to try for any scholarships. At the macro level this is a critical problem for the civil service who must now find new ways to attract and retain their share of the best. This they cannot do without overhauling the system and culture. I only hope they will act more like Apple than Nokia in the process. Of course my girl would have missed the boat but that cannot be helped. We must live in the present more than in the future.

Taxi fares priced to the limits

The last time I was in a cab was more than a year ago. For me it is either my car or public transport. These days more buses than the unreliable MRT. Cabs are simply not value for money. I don't know if I am right but overall owning your own set of wheels is better than calling cabs.

The story above confirmed my hunch that the cab companies have used their pricing power to the limit. Before this happened at Changi Airport I didn't understand why Trans Cab wanted to list but now their effort to is probably history.

On the other hand taxi drivers need to earn enough money to continue to attract locals to drive them or you would have many taxis in the yard and no drivers. We have a top and bottom squeeze here. I wonder if this is not the reason why we cannot imitate HK taxi scene.

For me, I am waiting the day of the driverless car come asap. Of course "all things being equal" transport cost will go down but property price will go up. This is the peculiar dynamics for the layman concerning the non tradeable sector of the economy. Indeed property continues to be a good long term investment despite what some very learned socialist minded economist eruditely propose otherwise.

The only enemy beside a bad economy or adverse politics for a good property market is the disruptive side effect of technology. Ecommerce has started to hurt on the street retail and it is not stopping there. Quietly years before it had save office rent through hot desking. The long term sweet spot in real estate is probably residential, logistics and meeting places.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The will to make Madrasahs succeed

I had been worried that the Madrasah path was an educational dead end for its pupils. Its failure was too horrible to contemplate. Now my fears have been put to rest.

This is a reminder that we can produce excellent outcomes if we are committed and put the best we have to the task. Pretty obvious isn't it? The problem is unlike our early days, the number of tasks and projects are growing faster than the people we have to deal with them. So many important jobs are now done by inadequate people.

We make do with what we have, assigning our best to the jobs that are most critical. Of course we don't do this anywhere near perfectly. The slip ups are glaring and potentially politically costly. Fixing the priority list has never been as important. Sometimes the trade-offs has as many losers as there are winners e.g., the understaffed police. Often the trade-offs are measured in time. What is withheld today for the sake of the future. Especially how much do you avoid spending today for a more secure tomorrow. John Maynard Keynes had some wise words regarding this matter which the PAP had grown to ignore to their cost.

Some things were just stupid in the the form of penny wise and pound foolish or a stitch in time to save nine. The woeful lack of maintenance of our rail system is a classic example.

To deploy sufficient resources and talent to make Madrasah succeed stems from a deep appreciation of the consequences of not giving the Muslim Malay community a leg up. I do not know if this is an original thought owned by the present leadership or just a hard truth they acted upon without deep insight.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

ISIS sympathisers among Malaysian soldiers

Yeah, Malaysian police are keeping tab on the soldiers. Who is keep tab on the police then? The Salafist ideology is deep seated in Malaysia. It has become a real hard problem taking politics as its hostage too.

I can't wait for more of them who have gone to Iraq and Syria to be disillusioned from their experience joining ISIS. It is our fortune that Malaysian, Indonesian, Filipino and Indian Muslims which the Arab ISIS look down on are given menial tasks instead of silly glory toting a rifle. I hope they get most of them to carry water, cook and also wash toilets.

The ISIS Arabs are racists. True religion is race blind.

ST: More such stories please

I am writing this on the morning of the 11th but posting this as the 7th. I simply didn't have the time to blog.

This series of articles by Toh Yong Chuan have been very well received. He had tried being a security guard, taxi driver and now caring for the elderly. It was the first story that had the most impact on me because I know next to nothing about security guards. The only security guard we knew was almost like family to us long ago at my parents' place in Braddell View. The scene has completely changed, becoming worse.

Now would ST be hard put to find more such stories? To me the concept is about building links (not yet bridges) between different worlds in the shared space of Singapore society. The media spent too much time writing about the successful and rich. They should go and find out what the public is keen to know but nobody is providing the info.

To be relevant the ST must be a local paper as well. Wasn't that the reason why Warren Buffett went out buying many community papers. This is how you deal with globalization.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Western Union: Sing Post worry for you

A real pity PayPal wasn't usable this time when we try to send her help money. Her situation had worsen after one year and so she no longer have a bank account and is on the verge of homelessness.

First time I sent money via Western Union. The $70 transfer fee to me is really expensive and of course the SGD/USD rates are horrible too. I expect it would be even worse for other currencies. If I could use PayPal from my USD account I wouldn't need to suffer this tax. The USD is so strong now.

It is easy to help the rich who don't need your help and very costly to help the poor because they are so poorly set up to even receive aid.

What I was quite unprepared for was the reaction of the Sing Post officer when I told her I wanted to send money overseas. She asked me if I had personally met the receiver and went on to explain that she had to do this with everyone using Western Union because there has been just too many scams. When I told her no, but I had known this person for a good ten years, she still wear that worry for me expression. I told her don't worry, I know what I was doing.

I have gotten to know so many people because I used to run a website and sell stuff. All sorts from all over the world and over time a handful have become friends. Most are doing well or OK but this one was especially unfortunate.

A business isn't just about money or performance. People is the reason and you need to find a balance to make this worthwhile and meaningful according to your faith. Do not exceed your faith for that is pride. Give faith time to grow, to be wrong, to be humbled.

Update: Dec 6 8:20 am

Received this SMS from Western Union about an hour ago. Appreciate the service.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Smart or just Smarter Nation?

Huh? What smart nation? In my early twenties they had I vaguely recall the intelligent island vision and other successors. I think each plan lasted about ten years. So aren't we an intelligent nation already or in the new description, a smart nation?

I think the right frame is not smart but smarter nation. This bandwagon never stops.

The technology I kinda of read about to be incorporated to make a smarter nation are already here. We are simply just putting them together and integrating it in a fashion other cities do not have the political will to do the same. In other words, it is not too far wrong to say we can be viewed as catching up. But we want to catch up better than others since they never have the full works.

So what's after the smart nation? The dawn of robots? Do you still need every Singaporean as many can economically be replaced by machines? Luminaries like Stephen Hawkings and Elon Musk among others are brooding over the fall of our specie by then. I hope and I don't think they are right, but I am more worried about AI robotic soldiers and police officers. Meanwhile we will be accumulating experience with flying drones and massively intelligent networks. As usual I expect we will pay insufficient attention to security and privacy.

Welcome to the Brave New World.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Bishan Depot: Not once, twice but three times

I was also thinking of that Kenny Roger's song.

That duo insulted high security three times! I supposed they could also have entered any military installation if they had they wanted too. After all the guy in charge of SMRT is a former Chief of Defence Force.

I screenshot that article on Friday. This morning I had to decide if I should thrashed it. I think the right thing to do is remember rather than forget. If I remember correctly the next day Christopher Tan wrote an article educating readers the seriousness of this breach of security.

What I am really disappointed with the MPs and ministers is the lack of outrage over this incident. They will try harder but who cares about harder, it has got to be good enough.

Are they also trying to use the nobody gets fired for buying IBM logic by using Certis Cisco for security? That company has its priorities wrong because it put commercial interests ahead of security performance. There are businesses which a failure has small impact and there are those with high impact which failure is unacceptable. Every major security breach is a Black Swan for a protection company like Certis Cisco. If they don't understand this they shouldn't be in this business.

Looks like we aren't learning the right lessons until we are hit with a MAJOR TERRORIST ATTACK.

Update: Dec 6, 8:25 am

Thanks to Andrew for the reminder.

SMRT management cannot be trusted. Stupid of minister Liu not to come down harder on them. These irresponsible and greedy bosses will keep their jobs but I am not sure about Lui Tuck Yew.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Too pricey mini steamboat @ Tanjong Katong

The 2nd mini steamboat outlet along Tanjong Katong Road was really pricey. I think we are better off going to their Toa Payoh outlet.

Paid more than $70 for less than what we normally had at Toa Payoh which rarely exceeds $50. Also they gave us less chilli sauce than Toa Payoh.

To add insult to the ripped off I didn't realize they charged me $5 extra for the Tom Yam soup. As can be seen in the picture, we had the chicken soup.

Fortunately one of the kids was curious and went to check what was the fine print on the all pasted on several columns. Unfortunately they slipped this into our bill and I missed it.

We will not be back. Better to travel to Toa Payoh than come here.

First visit to Library@Orchard

I first hurried attempt to find the new Library@Orchard was unsuccessful. I was surprised there were no prominent signage pointing to its location inside the Orchard Gateway building. I had forgotten that was also the case when they were located in Ngee Ann City.

Last night we had time, unlike previously I was in a hurry after picking up the lousy Zenfone 6 from the service centre. It was only a matter of time we found the place and it wasn't actually hard to locate.

This library ranks aesthetics above use. The Dewey Decimals were almost invisible and I didn't notice them until I put up this photo. Well along Orchard road you are there to see and to be seen. Packaging and looks are uber important or you are just out of place.

Personally I like the Library@Chinatown better. The many Ah Laos quietly reading also add to the aesthetics of the place. I wonder how the librarians got them not to speak loudly.

Annual visit to Taka Christmas Tree

We were early this year making the customary visit to this tree in Taka. Every year lots of people come here with their children to have their photos taken with this tree. We had done the same when the kids were much younger. Now I just take pictures of others taking family and friends pics. It's their turn now.

I am also trying to get used to seeing photos in 16:9 which is the default Note 4 setting instead of the more familiar 4:3 format.

A mug's story

I broke my mug and blogged about it in March this year. Wifey gave me her mug to use and she went back to using her old one. As it was pink colored mug, I never got used to it. There were times I mistook my daughter's blue mug as mine. I have no problems with pink polos and shirts but just could never get used to a pink mug or pants or God forbid socks. On the other hand pink ties are very nice. I even used one for my wedding.

Last night with the Takashimaya vouchers from opening a Citi account, I bought myself the green mug. This morning wifey was already back to using the pink mug. I thought she said she didn't want it? Of course she said that. How else would she get me to use her mug?

Ah Pek waiting outside exams hall

It wasn't easy to spot him. Here was this Ah Pek waiting outside the exam hall for his kid to finish. There were also many cars waiting and I was among several cars parked in front of the invigilators' cars.

I didn't get to see who he was waiting for because I had to move away for the invigilator to drive out. By the time I parked in the invigilator's space, the motorbike was gone.

Kudos to the kid. I can imagine many of them would not want to be seen going off in this low status transport. I hope he or she does very well in this exam too.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The young are too expensive to waste

In a labor starved economy, in the end labor will win the negotiation over pay and work conditions if businesses do not roll over and die first. Then unemployment will rise as the economy tanks. This is the script for bigger countries which is practically for significance, everybody else.

To be pragmatic businesses have to change their attitudes not only to older workers but especially the young ones. The young work harder at school than their forebears, so they are not lazy. They just need to be motivated differently and what is wrong with that? Isn't that progress if it is in disguise by older bosses who lack imagination.

Metaphorically the old would want to as always done when they were younger, carry water. The young on the other hand will want to lay the water pipe first, scare you with the cost and risks for doing so and ask for more money for their dare and energy despite their lack of experience.

The young are increasingly choosing to be unemployed because there is more than enough jobs to go around. Many of these are water carrying job versus the pipe laying ones the young want.

Unfortunately it has become only fashionable for business to talk long term but walk the short term. Listed companies live from quarter to quarter. We have in the making a Tragedy of the Commons from businesses who only think in terms of the next bucket of water instead of long term benefits of laying a pipe. This is especially true in the construction industry.  I learned from my nephew from wifey's side that he had switched from civil engineering to the BCA.

Everyone including very often this government is now short sighted because of failing foresight in an environment that is getting only more uncertain.

Can't say No to Gurmit

The man has asked us to excuse him and how can we say no? I am happy for him he is financially secure enough to be able to afford this. He is doing the right thing to put his family far ahead of competing priorities.

We shall see less of him but hopefully for those moments he offers himself to us, those will be real quality moments. I thought they were cruel to make him host NDPs and Count Down parties year after year.

Thank you Gurmit and PCK Pte Ltd.

Black Friday arrives here

Someone left let a comment a little while ago about Black Friday shopping exported from the USA to everywhere.

Yesterday I saw this advert by Robinsons. So it has finally made its way here. In fact I wonder why it took so long.

On cue I went looking for people celebrating the Thanksgiving meal. Yes, that has also arrived for those willing to pay. I emailed my friend in Indiana about it. We had been discussing this for years.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

TOC running low on funds

I had hope they wouldn't come to this but also am not surprised. In fact I think readership might even be falling counting myself and I presume many others sharing similar thoughts.

To me they have become more and more anti-PAP. You can't be anti anti-ISIS enough, but PAP? That party running the government can do a lot better and they are making good progress since the last GE So I expect them to be criticized less. Nevertheless I don't like the way they go about trying to fix the WP. Like many I wish they would rise above structure breeds behavior and move away from adversarial towards the cooperative and competitive. Be a gentleman or risk losing respect and eventually credibility.

Christmas at the Flower Dome.

Made a quick visit to the Flower Dome at GBB last evening after dinner. When a Christmas theme is on, you got to see it in the dark as well as during the day. Will come back and tarry longer when the exams are over and before leaving for Yosemite.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Jover and his kind: Need laws against sociopaths

I agree with William Wan that Jover Chew deserves the due process of law but that is not the point. The takeaway from this episode and countless incidents before is that we do not have laws against sociopaths like him.

Hardly had the dust settle, we have in the media another hell giving person. We are only reading from the few the media picked up. There must be many more out there. In some countries e.g., Germany this fellow would be properly dealt with. Why not us especially when out of necessity we live cheek by jowl.

No amount of education will work on sociopaths. They must be dealt with differently and that can only be achieve with the teeth of the law. I don't know if this will work but getting them to live together just might help.

Security Guards: Ego destroying job

On Sunday wifey mentioned that there was an article on security guards in the papers that day. I replied it is an ego destroying job. Later that day I had the chance to find out what the article was about. I already know why, but I learned the details of how in the story.

I think one of the best places to be a security guard is in our public schools. The guards there get more respect and even responsibilities.

The pupils are taught to respect and obey them. Only a few parents treat them badly and most are kind to them. On the other hand some schools fail to keep them in the loop. Once a school security guard ask me when the exams are over so he knows when to open the gate!

Low but sufficient pay in theory is OK but not in real life. A lousy salary is almost always bundled with low status, poor treatment and for security guards ego bashing.

Lowly paid foreign workers pay brokers to come here. Top executives enjoy sign on bonuses. There are too many examples that to those who have more would be given, and to those who have little, even that would be taken away from them. Please don't say these were the words of Jesus. He was just stating what had always been. Will it always be? We try not to even if we can only sustain it for a while.

The industry will never get enough security guards. Who in his right might would offer himself or herself to be verbally abused every day?

The path this industry is on is a dead end. The way the job is done must be changed.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pres Jokowi flew economy here

Uruguay President José Mujica is an inspiration for some and a curiosity for others. Even a rich Middle Eastern oil sheikh wanted to buy his beaten up VW for a million bucks.

Now President Jokowi is different. Indonesia is not Uruguay, a country that you cannot ignore and has to be taken seriously. If Jokowi succeeds even Singapore leaders will feel the pressure on how to lead. He flew economy class to Singapore leaving his Presidential plane behind.

I heard he also gave a short 13 minutes presentation with powerpoint slides at the G-20 meeting.

This guy is new wine. That's good but he has to be careful not to burst old wine skins.

In an idealistic frame, I have asked myself if our leaders want to make their job many times easier they should not allow their fat pay to stop them, but watching the rest of the world you realize you can never find enough of such leaders. Nearly all poorly paid leaders are hypocrites of low salaries but amazing high incomes. Unfortunately and very risky, politics in public is always idealistic and impractical.

Jokowi is a man on a mission and Indonesia is at a point that is producing many more like him from the ground to the discredit of its elites. There will not be a place for the Jokowi types when Indonesia becomes a rich nation, but that is too far away to think about now. These leaders must be in a hurry because this moment and opportunity will be brief. Is it possible to grow Indonesia as quickly as China? I think that is what would be needed not to lose momentum and keep support high.

Power also have a stealthy way to change a man's character especially when he is very successful. Not even counting the obvious ones from parliament, Jokowi has many tests ahead to challenge him

Thoughtless law against engine idling

The law against engines idling  was passed long ago in 1999 but not enforced and forgotten. It was to me a poorly thought out piece of legislation. Only the NEA is interested, the primary law enforcers couldn't be bothered.

Don't we all see police patrol cars idling their engines all the time?

I just spotted one yesterday. I can find you a few every week since I am on the road so much.

Again he media failed to bring us up to date why was such a law passed. If it is to reduce carbon it is a good law but it mustn't stop here. They have to target the air conditioning in offices and homes too. Except idiots, nobody idle his engine for the fun but to keep the cabin cool in our hot weather. If you don't then you will go home hot and sweaty, take a bath and your environmental foot print would be far bigger.

The reason for stopping idling engines is the same for switching to electric vehicles - cutting local pollution. Now if that is the purpose why not just designate certain areas where you are not permitted to idle your engine?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Terrorism: We are indeed complacent

Across CNA, Today, ST and now Yahoo most of the comments were about severely punishing the two German vandals. I am just glad they weren't Americans as that would be very troublesome. Enough people over there didn't learn from the right lessons of Michael Fay's example.

I have come across only one comment questioning how these two fellows got in to spray paint a train. There could  be more similar comments but I have not time or stamina to go through all of them.

So how did these two passed security and get into the Bishan depot? SMRT lips are zipped and the Police is equally quiet. We might not know as there seems as yet no pressure for the public demanding answers.

I can't do anything if the Singapore public is complacent about the risk of a terrorist attack, but I can take precautions. The simple reason why we have not been hit is because these terrorists have higher priority targets than us. That is why we were so careful about how we should get involved combating ISIL. Truth is we are actually an easy target. Securing Singapore like Israel will exact huge economic costs which we cannot afford. Furthermore Israel is far easier than Singapore to secure. There is no need to explain this, just follow the news and use your head.

We have a reputation for being safe. How good is that until we are really tested. We didn't even need any terrorist, in person or cyber to take down SGX trading system. Everyone is so money minded throwing caution to the wind to make more money. Every business including SMRT earns money but won't even bat an eyelid to socialize losses. This must not continue.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why we cannot be like America

For the latest example by Thomas Friedman. Yet another of the countless example we all come across that the Americans have a tendency to learn lessons the hard way. They also end up learning it very well but that story is for another occasion.

I still remember clearly from my JC days so long ago. My GP teacher proposed that democracy is just tyranny by the majority. That had stuck with me and would take many years for me to break that lens and grasp that in America, it is the unreasonable tyranny of the minority, which turns out to be also wrong. It didn't help that LKY also reinforced this point year after year.

As usual like many, I am amused by Churchill's eloquence. His oft repeated quote about the Americans which my daughter had become fond of quoting from time to time for a few years already.

You can always count on Americans to do the right thing - after they've tried everything else. 

Until about a few years back, I didn't understand why the Americans behaved thus.

The American political system and society make it impossible for the majority to lord over the minority and sometimes even the minority of just one.

As my kids grow up I recognize that there are lessons they cannot learn except by the hardest way and some of the most important lessons I cannot teach but had to by faith be left to God. I would not explain it here but America is also an act of faith. Nearly all nations are based on territories and a few on race and culture but none I know is based on beliefs like America is. It is the ultimate idea virus.

Often America wait for those who cannot be persuaded or understand except through painful mistakes to move forward. If small countries like us try to do the same, we will be sunk. There are limits to how most countries could adapt American ways for themselves.

This is the last paragraph for Friedman's op-ed. Familiar? That's was exactly what LKY warned them before they invaded Iraq. We all knew because the aghast LKY went public on this. I sent that article to a friend in Dubai with the following comment.

Note the last paragraph. That was what LKY was telling them Americans not to invade Iraq. A trillion dollar lesson for not heeding his advice.

Do we have a trillion dollars to spare? But they have paid billions for many other mistakes before. Well we can also spend a trillion bucks if the Singapore Dollar is the world's reserve currency.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A best selling book on Gay Sex

I check the top selling Kindle books pretty often. Coming in at 21 was "The joy of Gay Sex" by Charles Silverstein. Just yesterday Dr. John Piper was sharing on Facebook a story on anal sex purportedly taught to some American 5th graders.

What is happening? I don't seek them but they have found many of us. Their presence is growing. Over time they will cease to be a public secret any more but publicly live cheek by jowl with us. I don't have a problem with that but still that realization was kinda of a shock to me.

To make it to the top 21, I wonder how many people are homosexual. I imagine it must be a large number or were lots of straight people picking up that book out of curiosity? I do not have the time to find out but I am sure we will eventually get to learn all about them. No need to go looking, they will come to us. Now if they expand their space too rapidly there will be a violent push back from the public. All that I have noticed about them tells me they are an impatient bunch. Personally I also think they have no idea what love is. Unfortunately that is the problem with too many among the rest of us too.

Many people supposedly married for love but nearly all separation are about assets. When I was a kid people often wanted children for their pension value. Love is just a convenient cover for bread and butter issues. It's the same with politics. And I don't want to go on to the issue behind money - our egos. You love others in order to love your ego at a higher level of self pleasure. That's love?

But God showed his love for us in that whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Ah where and how does sex feature when Christ is the image of the husband and the Church his bride? I better stop here.

John Piper shares this article on anal sex

I saw this off my phone on the way back from lunch yesterday. I dug into this further this morning because if what John Piper said was true, this is to put it mildly most unwelcomed.

Here is a YouTube video of the TV program reporting the story.

Snopes tries to get to the bottom of this. Gays everywhere would be most interested to see what is the reaction from all outside their community. Meanwhile I am still struggling to find time for this book: The Cross in the Closet.  I am have read about a fifth of the book.

I am sure there is a war out there between the anti-gay and the gays. This war is getting more under handed and dirtier all the time. Each side is trying to get us to be on their side.