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.

From ZenFone 6 to Galaxy Note 4

My short story of a somewhat satisfied owner of a Asus Zenfone 6 ($299 only) came to an end a couple of days ago. The next day I recontracted with Singtel for a Galaxy Note 4.

What's my problem with the Zenfone?

I dropped it on Monday morning with its protective case with no scratches or any damage. Thinking nothing was broken I carried on as usual until a few hours later I discovered I couldn't use the power button to perform screen capture. Then I discovered I couldn't turn off the phone either. Also the volume rocker no longer worked. Was it the drop or just coincidence I cannot be absolutely sure. I took it to the Asus service centre along Orchard Road, waited my turn and the service adviser told me on average repairs take about 5 days. I wasn't too happy to hear that but what choice have I got?

Asus grossly over delivered when they called me the next day to pick up the repaired Zenfone. When I turned up late in the day, the service adviser explained to me that they had to replace the LCD as the volume rocker and power button are part of the same unit. I asked her why the rocker and button had failed but they were as clueless as me.

When I got back to the car, I messaged my brother that Asus had probably designed their Zenfone poorly. My guess is that the vibration from the LCD hitting the ground could reverberate to the rocker and power buttons damaging them. If  my guess is correct they will eventually get many returned phones with the same problem.

The Zenfone 6 has other problems that I have reluctantly lived with over the last few months.

1. Their software running the mobile radio doesn't seem to work reliably. Often I only became aware of messages when I stepped into the house and the phone switched to automatically to WiFi.

2. Uploading to Dropbox is also unreliable. I often transfer stuff to Dropbox only to catch it uploading the connection flipped over to WiFi.

3. Eventually I discover that I could force the upload if I switch to Dropbox as the active app. Similarly email messages started to come in and messages began to appear with switch to those apps.

So now I have given up my vintage Classic plan and gone over to 4G. The Zenfone is now a back up phone I pray I wouldn't need at least 2016.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Example of good communication from Ms Henson

The government repeatedly fails to communicate well enough. The latest example was Khaw Boon Wan failure to anticipate and explain why foreign workers were used in an anti-riot exercise leading to be criticized heavily by netizens and the relevant NGOs.

Preceding Khaw, S. Iswaran scored worse and they can't blame the media for misquoting them!

On the other hand Bertha Henson is more in touch with the ground. She already anticipated how some readers might react. Near the end of her blog post there was another example.

If you cannot communicate you cannot get support for the right policies. Most of the time what the masses want are not the best for all of us and you have to sell complex, unobvious, alternative ideas successfully. As they keep failing to reach us successfully, others with beguiling ideas have come forward with alternatives that are popular but likely to bring regrets later.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Not sufficient: Ambassador Chan's Duality and Balance

Chan Heng Chee contributed this to the ST on Wednesday. I read but found it unsatisfactory. Only the shallowest thinkers still toy with containing China, like the most inept generals who think of tomorrow's conflict in yesterday's terms. So it is duality and balance? But I feel this isn't good enough to avoid the two powers running a high risk of eventually clashing with each other. Duality and balance is not a sufficient concept for global and regional security.

At APEC Obama and Xi spent much time together and afterward announced commitments to cutting back carbon. Yes, the idea is to identify common challenges as mutual enemies which both the Americans and Chinese can combine their resources against.

China in the driver's seat

Not until the recent APEC in Beijing I was perplexed and unsure what the Chinese were doing raising tensions in the neighborhood. Things are starting to be clearer now.

The saber rattling is giving way to olive branches. Throughout the last few years, the Chinese were in the driver's seat in her relationship with the rest of Asia as I watched how the rest of us were just reacting.

If the region forget that excepting economics, China is still a kid, the last few years have put paid to that notion.

There will always be slow learners and too many who can only learn life's lessons the hard way. I imagine the discussions of the national leaders of each country, their experience with China in recent years would have caused them to think quite differently about this newly assertive giant. I think China's leaders pretty much want this.

When I saw the icy handshake between Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe, you could tell that Xi Jinping was the more powerful and confident personality and for a brief half second Abe appeared tentative, almost hoping that Xi Jinping would be friendlier. If Xi Jinping would only break into a smell, Abe would be in a hurry to reciprocate. Of course that opportunity never came.

What we have seen is the Chinese version of Theodore Roosevelt carrying a big stick but speaking softly. The Chinese do not speak softly but in ways reminiscent of ancient imperial tradition. Next year all the defence ministers are invited to Beijing to talk shop.

Singapore is shrewd to step up military relations with China. Very good timing.

Ho Kwon Ping's Second Lecture: Beguiling Ideas

Only managed to find the time to read his second lecture this morning. I could only read a good summary of his main points from last night.

On his ideas of the economy, a more folksy and approachable way to understand it is Warren Buffett's wide moat against competitors. We are already doing that and continue to strengthen and explore new opportunities. Every business and economy should try to do this but since there is so much dysfunction everywhere this is very rarely achieved much less sustained.

The fatal flaw of Ho Kwon Ping's very attractive ideas was he assumed that the external environment would be supportive. To make sure that our skiff do not sink, we need to invest in resilience. Once you factor this, his ideas become very hard to make practical. He could propose them and probably win support because on the other side the government is so hopeless at selling their strategies.

I like his CPF like concept for foreign workers but how do we get to regulated housing without upsetting the apple cart so completely that we could not recover? Standing close behind real estate is the financial sector. You cannot expect to overhaul real estate without also impacting finance. Conceptually this is also a national wealth redistribution effort which goes to the heart of what Singapore is. His idea is workable if we that was what we wanted from the beginning and we travel from there to now. I am afraid it is too late now. Also we had regulated housing from the beginning I don't think we could have today's prosperity. Actually this isn't just spilling to the ground the apples, it is a revolution. I don't think it is doable. Even Hong Kong couldn't build anywhere near enough public housing, His ideas on housing were far too pie in the sky. Nevertheless this is a provocative suggestion to help more people understand our present situations and practical options open to us.

To be competitive until we are more innovative and stronger at the business ecosystem level, the way to close the income gap between the ITE, Poly and university graduates is to slow the rise of graduate salaries. As we keep producing more graduates, market forces would already narrow the gap. Of course we would have many unhappy graduates failing to achieve the graduate lifestyle. Sometimes I wonder if our low graduate salaries do not act as a glass ceiling for the Poly trained folks at the same time. Overall this depress our salaries except for the very top which is more likely to be FTs who had acquired experience simply because they were not Singapore trained!

A beyond GDP index to me is just wishful thinking unless the rigorous foundation already exist for us to build on. That would be a post economics or economics plus world. A post GDP or GDP plus world lies in the future. Those happiness indices are a passing fad. Any economy that trivializes the GDP as the primary measure of progress will under perform and all other desirable indicators or indices were suffer along as well. Sure man does not live by bread alone, but everything additional to bread needs to be fed by bread. It is the purpose of GDP growth rather than adding new indices which matter.

Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity never ask for money (bread). God has always provided them. On the other hand Dr Goh never believed in the Bible story of Jesus feeding the thousands with a few loaves and fishes. Let's get real here. We are more descendants of Dr. Goh than Mother Teresa. So it is bread, bread and more bread. GDP, GDP and more GDP.

The best way to hear Ho Kwon Ping is over a quiet and private dinner when you can explore ideas the masses would not easily accept and need to be persuaded. We cannot expect to hear such thoughts articulated in public. That would be a foolish way to communicate. The government have no such luxury and it is very easy for bright creative minds to share ideas that make the government ideas appear less attractive.

The government must do better beyond being the top boy in a class of failures, and Ho Kwon Ping's beguiling ideas are except for how to pay foreign workers, very helpful to help us understand our situation better and appreciate what is possible.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5 Plus 1 Vile Big Banks

I have long wanted to write something really bad about the too big to fail banks. I guess I shouldn't wait any more.

For the longest time I have been suspicious about their ability to make money year after year. They must have obtained some unfair advantage. I didn't know how to work the numbers (banks are such complex creatures) but my gut feel was their advantage of size, cost and reach was insufficient for their extraordinary profitability.

Then the tide went out with the Lehman triggered financial crisis. The truth is coming out.

Basically they rigged the markets. There is nothing new or creative in their methods. Completely old fashioned They were vile and corrupt. The Swiss will sent some UBS and other bankers to jail. The Americans would just impose huge fines and this they can afford with some pain. What they can't afford is business as usual will stop and so profitability will go down the hill. They had never learned to compete fairly.

The Plus 1 is another vile bank - Barclays. The investigation isn't completed yet.

Already the best and brightest prefer to go elsewhere especially Silicon Valley. Over here our graduates are behind the curve.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Train Vandalism: Waiting for a bomb is it?

If you look at the million bucks LG Kuek is getting for six months of work you will discover that security of the trains and system is not a primary KPI he gets his performance pay. Never mind as a military man he should know more about security than most.

So in the event terrorists successfully detonated an explosive device on a train in a tunnel, don't be surprised why it happened. Just look at how clueless SMRT is about the latest graffiti painting on a train.

A good security system even if it fails to prevent a breach is able to quickly provide leads to when and how it happened leaving a good enough trail to tell a story and hopefully to the perpetrators.

Looks like security is high priority to SMRT verbally only. Commuters have no choice but ride these trains. Perhaps they should also learn to pray for safety too. At this rate it is not a matter of if but when a train is bombed.

Update: Nov 12, 9:05pm

The ex LG says, "safe, reliable and customer-centric". So to him it already is eh? Even those who can't read know this is not true.

Monday, November 10, 2014

XiaoMi Powerbank arrives

Ordered this XiaoMi 10400 mAh power bank late Thursday and it arrived today. That's fast.

Feels good in the hand, high quality, well constructed. This will help to charge a tablet much faster.

Not a cent to $1 billion on tuition

My daughter pointed this out to me yesterday. She had often told me how almost every classmate except the scholars having tuition. How they are often ahead of her in class, but with only two multiple choice papers left and given the experience of her older sister before her, I am fairly certain she would do better than most of her classmates who have had tuition.

I always tell her that what mattered is how you finish the race. Too many parents use tuition as a security blanket. Top students at RI and HCI signed up for tuition to be triply sure they get their As. They don't realize this is a bad habit that would serve them very poorly in working life. The elder girl often tell me that most of her project mates are not confident and insecure about their work. That is from a cohort where at least 90% of them have four As. They have not much thinking skills and try to use their scoring skills for university.

It takes more than a decade to learn that in many situations tuition isn't that useful. Today kids brought up on tuition is not likely to serve this on their children. As our society mature we will come to rely less on tuition. I don't expect to see the industry hitting $2 or 3 billion dollars.

As the desire to gain an edge over others will never cease, the tuition industry will have to adapt. This is going to be an exciting and constantly changing space. My wish for the industry is to evolve to become more inclusive, relevant and useful beyond exams. For that to happen their customers must be far more informed and sophisticated. And we will not call it tuition.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Harassing Jover: S Iswaran the political imbecile

S Iswaran is not wrong that some netizens had gone too far harassing Jover Chew but he was also absolutely politically STUPID. He just massively contributed to the impression that our leaders are out of touch. Sure, since the last GE they have been working over time to right many missteps and wrongs but the laundry list they needed to attend to were clearly spelled out to them. If you don't shout at them they remain out of touch.

Communication 101, when you as minister speak to the public you must do in such a way that you show the public that you understand how they feel. On this issue, our feelings was clear as day. This minister clearly doesn't know which side his bread is buttered. People are so angry with him now, I fear he needs to look for another job after the next election.

More than 200 comments and many of them with so many likes.

Meanwhile CASE is still suffering from denial.

  • Guo Xiongwei These NEW PAP Ministers r a waste of taxpayers' $$$; so many Ministers & what have they done except telling citizens off? The SLS issue has been around for YEARS; even CASE admitted it has received numerous complaints & did the NEW PAP MPs (in CASE) do anything?
    Like · Reply · 116 · 2 hrs

Jeremy Teo Menister if the woman who pick up coins is yr mother.

The guy who kneel down is yr father.

I guess u will say totally opposite
Like · Reply · 98 · 1 hr

Lawrence Joel Sim Trying to raise awareness against scammers is going too far, but having 25 complaints against the errant retailer Mobile Air and yet Mobile Air still dares to cheat and scam people because the authorities seem powerless to do something about the issue, that is not going too far. Logic!
Like · Reply · 90 · 1 hr · Edited

Zak Man If you can do nothing, shut up.
Like · Reply · 59 · 

Bobby Liu Let's consider this, what if nobody bothered? What if we all thought CASE could do something about it? What if this tourist went home feeling like he was a loser because nobody acted? This is not about a tourist or another shopper being scammed. This is about the inaction of CASE. This is about the passion of our people, We the Singaporeans, who came together to stand up for the weaker brethren. This is not about the black and white of the law, rather, the 50 shades in between. This a a moral wrong that's been righted. Did the situation go a little too far? Not one bit. In your opinion, Mr Iswaran, how do you think this will unfold if CASE were to handle the situation. C'mon, give it your best shot. And you have 20/20 hindsight now. Understand that at the end, this is about the basic respect one human being gives to another. If I perceive the situation from your angle, you might very well have been right but maybe at times, you should learn to see things from the perspective of others.
Like · Reply · 42 · 1 hr

Eugene Tay It's not that the netizens that have gone too far, it's the the authorities that have not done enough....
Like · Reply · 65 · 1 hr

I am full of admiration of ST John Lui's article in the Sunday Times today. S Isawaran should read him to understand the sentiment on the ground. In my view, nobody could have said it better than this veteran journalist.

I hope ST republish this on AsiaOne without their pay wall.

30.7 Celsius Indoor

Four days ago, the "mercury" read 30.7C at 11pm.

This morning before I delete this photo I was wondering if we had seen higher temps at home. I checked and found what I had recorded previously.

June 21, 2014
May 14, 2013

Those days were cooler. I am really hoping we have passed the peak of high temperatures. The down pour over the last couple of days was a welcome cool respite. Last night the rain was especially heavy. We were at a nephew's wedding dinner and above the din we could still occasionally hear the thunder outside. My weather app informed me it was raining cats and dogs outside. Fortunately by the time we left, the rain had settled into a light drizzle.

Not so nice it rained through the night and early morning, I couldn't go to the PCN.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Visiting the US again: What Tips Meant

Every Saturday the NYT send me an email sharing what their writers are reading. First on the list was about tipping.

I am always interested to learn as much as possible how the poor are coping. In ordinary moments this is a story far away on the other side of the earth, nothing to do with us over here except that we are traveling again to the USA soon.

Whilst we are there for a couple of weeks, we will try to help. I am not going to think about if they deserve it. Just leave some kindness merited or otherwise behind. We don't look like them and in some places we might not be treated well. Unlike Down Under this happen much less often.

Before I wrote the above I had just read the email John Mauldin had shared (here's the article version). This time it was a very interesting experience because I was practically reading myself. This was the forest and earlier in the morning I had looked at some trees.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Sim Lim Square and Govt Indecency

To me the plot is very simple. The government has for decades pretended not to see what's going on.

In the early days our government was like a young mother who was driven out of the family - think evicted from the Federation. And like those HK movies produced at that time, the young mother was forced into prostitution in order to feed the children, an indecent but perhaps necessary decision.

But we are no longer poor even if we always have reasons to be afraid that we could be very quickly given how vulnerable we are. Unfortunately the habit forged in adversity is stuck with us. All we wanted is to get as much money from foreigners as possible. The latest and publicly most successful were the two casinos. We want foreigners to leave behind their cash but discourage locals from patronizing them. To digress as I can't help myself, Sheldon and Genting understand the gamblers better and knew it would be hard to keep out many locals. The government was indecent, and its casino partners were worse. The whole gambling business, the government should stay out of especially if they think long term.

A shop assistant can make 20 grand a month scamming mobile phone customers. Most of these are foreign money. You get the picture? As long as the money stays in Singapore, it didn't matter how it is got. Really indecent.

As the kids grew up the wise mother knew she must leave the sex trade or risk losing everything. Not only is it time to quit being so indecent, it is actually really late.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reclaiming our values: Ban on Shisha

They are finally coming around to getting rid of the shisha. Good!

Together with the two casinos I have always viewed allowing shisha smoking here as myopic and emblematic of a money minded government selling out on our values.

I don't know who gave the go ahead then. It was a politically inane move. There are just things we don't sell for money especially our values.

They must know all along that shisha smoking is addictive and bad for health. Even as an individual I knew that when we were living in Dubai. Unfortunately too many among us did not and so it came in. So in Sisha and a few things else and out our trust in the government. Was it worth it? I think as a society we are better off as we respond by forming civic groups to study the issues independently of the government. For the PAP it was a stupid move. Fortunately for them they are not bad at learning from their mistakes.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Mni Steamboat returns to the East

I thought they had moved from Parkway Parade to Toa Payoh Central? It is nice to see them returning to the East. I saw this today as I was driving along my usual route along Tanjong Katong Road.

Looks like they are still outfitting the place. Come to eat there when they are open.

Escorted Obama, then got fired

I feel quite sad reading this story in the NYT.

From the article, I don't see that there were grounds for firing him. If anything, the Secret Service and this fellow bosses deserve to be fixed.

I hope this story would have a happier ending. We shall see.

MOM bad idea: Hiring PR experts

The first thing on my mind when I read this article in the morning was MOM didn't learn from Anton Casey who had a PR agency failed him big time, and numerous other examples I can't completely recall.

MP Baey Yam Kheng with PR background hasn't been a glorious example for the other MPs and Ministers to communicate with the public.

Why use the PR firms, they are not good for reaching out across the spectrum. They are only good for clear and targeted audiences on specific issues.

I hope this is not a money wasting exercise.

Flipping up prata prices

Prices of pratas are up 10 cents. I don't believe they flip the thing more times or cook it with more care.

At Swensens they have been confidently upping prices ahead of most others but in return they now give you better sky juice. Not more fresh from the tap taste.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Doctors, Lawyers and their fees

I have been skipping most of the news articles because I had been busier than usual. But I still read the headlines and if you add large graphics, I would notice them too.

My retina detached slowly when I read of  Dr. Susan Lim's charges to Brunei's royalty. My eye balls popped out when I see these lawyers' fees. MP Alvin Lim looked real bad and that bad brush is used to paint the PAP as well.

Yesterday NUS Law Dean contributed this to the ST and he took the opportunity to add a few lawyers' joke. As such jokes persist and we know humor is frequently just dressed up truth.

This is what Professor Simon Chesterman said,

Typically the line is invoked in jest - a shorthand example of the many jokes about lawyers that accuse our profession of being something that society would be better off without. (What's the difference between a jellyfish and a lawyer? One's a spineless, poisonous blob. The other is a form of sea life.)

and one more,

Singapore is not particularly litigious, though it appears to be growing more so. (God and the Devil are having a fencing dispute between Heaven and Hell that escalates until God says he will take the Devil to court. "Ha!" scoffs the Devil. "Where are YOU going to find a lawyer?")

and he is not a good lawyer if he had failed to defend the indispensability of lawyers quoting Shakespeare,

But Shakespeare was also highlighting the role that lawyers play as the guardians of stability and order, standing between society and the unruly mob. If you want chaos or to start a revolution, getting rid of the lawyers is a reasonable first step.

His point is lawyers are just simply a reflection of our society. So please stop the lawyers' jokes because we would just be pointing a finger at them with three digits pointing back at ourselves. Lawyers are insufferable.

What the majority of us do is to stay away from lawyers as much as possible except of course, to encourage your offspring to be one in order to make good money. I discouraged mine from reading law but it wasn't necessary as she had on her own also concluded it was a bad idea. I told her there there are a ton of lawyers out there who shouldn't be and are now regretting their choice. Law is a worthy pursuit if entered with the right reasons and especially love. A good lawyer must at least be a private practical philosopher. That's why he/she isn't a philosopher but a lawyer. Don't forget there were lawyers before there were universities and what did those revered colleges teach then? Theology and Law. From there we had our studies of  moral and natural philosophy which we now call the Humanities and Science.