Sunday, July 31, 2016

US Presidential Elections: Christian Wahabbism

Every few months I get a mailer from Bethesda Book Centre listing many Christian books on discount. One book which was regularly featured was Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. I wouldn't be surprised that book is required reading for those training to be pastors. Today a pastor friend left that on his Facebook page (see pic above) and Prof Grudem explained himself here.

As usual there are some theologians who hold other views. I found one, Andrew Naselli who is a colleague of one of my favorite theologians, John Piper. Dr. Naselli also wrote on how to vote during this peculiar presidential elections: Can You Vote for Donald Trump with a Clear Conscience?

I am with Dr. Naselli. I think Grudem is wrong to suggest that not voting for Trump is tantamount to sinning. Grudem a theological heavy weight, labored at explaining his position which I didn't have the time to follow in detail. The average responsible voter must know that Donald Trump cannot be trusted with the keys to the White House. Even his language is unacceptable and embarrassing to the ears of school children and Dr. Naselli enumerate the rest of the reasons why Trump cannot be President in his blog post. But I needed this necessary digression. I am supposed to write about Christian Wahabbism which even a quick scan of Grudem's writings is patently clear.

We know the Wahabbism that sprung from Saudi Arabia but what is Christian Wahabbism? The term doesn't exist and I am using it as my short hand to describe an intolerant version of Christianity. Their preferred method of influence on society is through the levers of political power and changing the laws to be "Christian friendly". To me this is the ultimate weakness of the Christian whose faith could not survive except in the most friendly environment. Grudem conveniently forgets that Jesus was not a zealot. He submitted to Roman authority. My suggestion to him and his followers is if he wants to make society better begin with their own lives. The fact that American society has become what it is, in many ways is their failure to reflect Christ's personality in their lives. These Christians cannot survive outside their Christian bubble and to be successful socially they need that bubble to encompass the whole of society. If they are granted their wish that is just euphemism for creating a Christian state which when challenged today, they will deny. Lawrence Khong and his followers are trying to do the same to Singapore as well. It will not bring peace but a sword to our society if they get their way.

Meanwhile Trump keep piling up reasons why he is morally and temperamentally unfit to be President. See Politico's story and Today Online summary. I am sure from now till November 8, Trump will keep adding evidence of his unfitness.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Two mice better than one

The vertical mouse which cost me about $14 arrived today. I learned from long experience that is not such thing as a true ergonomic mouse. Use any of them long enough and it is going to hurt your palm and eventually cause RSI. I think a practical way around this is to have two mice and switch between them. Since they are to be held differently they should pair well.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Smart students skip NUS orientation camps

Come on, NUS and the other universities are not sufficiently motivated to get on top of this annual recurrent issue. This damn game has been going on for years and I only need to check with my daughter and her friends to confirm that.

For the vast majority of students they will find these orientation programs are unnecessary. They never deliver anyway on helping you make friends and find your way around the various schools. How I wished more kids would be worldly wise enough  to do their homework than give into to fear and kiasuism. Boycott these programs or select to go to good ones e.g., the VCF or any of the religious groups.

My daughter just forwarded this email from NUS. Waste of time. So what if they conduct the briefing every year. These miscreants know the school would not take disciplinary action against them. This is only the beginning like it was in other colleges in America. Who knows if the rape culture there is gradually making its way to here too. Just waiting for the first incident to happen and unlike US laws, we are far better looking after our women. Some people in future are going to try this and we will jail them and cane them properly. Where are the local universities leadership going to hide their face by then? What are they waiting for?

NUS Students

26 July 2016

Dear Students


1.         The National University of Singapore (NUS) takes an extremely serious view of the recent media reports and feedback received on instances of offensive and inappropriate orientation activities.

2.         Orientation is intended to welcome and introduce freshmen to the NUS community. The University expects that orientation activities are carried out in ways that fully respect the dignity of all participants, regardless of gender. Our students, particularly freshmen, must feel safe, secure and respected at all times during orientation. If any student elects to opt out of an orientation activity, his or her decision must be respected and adhered to.

3.         NUS does not condone any behaviour or activity that denigrates the dignity of individuals. In particular, any sexual innuendo or connotation is deemed improper.

4.         Every year, before the start of the orientation period at NUS, the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) conducts briefing sessions for students involved in organising and leading orientation activities. The attendees would include student orientation leaders from NUS Students’ Union, Clubs, Societies, Freshmen Orientation Committees, project directors, and Junior Common Room Committees of Halls of Residence.

5.         During these sessions, OSA would go through the do’s and don’ts of orientation. It would be mandatory for students to go through the materials, which cite examples of inappropriate activities. The list of banned activities would be clearly conveyed and students would be made aware that offenders would face strong disciplinary action.

6.         Beyond these briefings, all proposed orientation programmes and activities must be endorsed and cleared with relevant supervisors, such as Hall Masters and Vice Deans, as well as OSA, before these are allowed to proceed. Supervisors would flag out and give instructions to student leaders to remove any inappropriate activity. Separately, from the beginning of the year, OSA had worked with the Deaneries of Faculties, and the Masters of Halls of Residence and Residential Colleges on the steps needed to ensure the appropriateness of all planned student orientation activities.

7.         We are very disappointed that in spite of all the above efforts, instances of offensive and inappropriate orientation activities have surfaced. These activities are neither approved nor endorsed. NUS takes a very serious views of these incidents and is carrying out thorough investigations. Strong disciplinary action will be taken against those found responsible.

8.         To reiterate the above message, OSA has met with student leaders of ongoing and forthcoming camps to remind them on the guidelines for acceptable orientation activities. NUS staff will also be on site at these camps.

9.         Any student who has concerns with orientation activities can contact the following staff at OSA on a strictly confidential basis:

Mr Seetow Cheng Fave (Tel: +65 8181 1684; Email:
Ms Grace Chan (Tel: +65 9004 9217; Email:

10.       I would like to assure all students that NUS is committed to providing students with a safe and secure environment that is conducive for learning and growth. Thank you.

With best wishes

Prof Bernard Tan
Acting Provost 

Update: June 27 12:15pm

They are finally getting serious about this?

Update June 27 1:25 pm

Good to see the public outraged over this. Shame on you NUS. As they rightly pointed out that htis has been going on year after year.

Update: June 28 9:35pm

The student leaders responsible for activities like these? You forget this is the year 2016 and there are so many smartphone clips shot by of all people, probably your friends. With such friends you don't need enemies. A clip like this could very well ensure that you would not graduate from NUS. I remember from my time as a student there that you could expelled for bringing disrepute to the name of the university.

Count yourselves lucky that NUS would not publicly shamed you but I like to think your degree could be gone. Better show some remorse and beg for mercy. The parents of these freshmen would be asking for your skin and your parents would be totally outraged at your behavior.

Update: June 29 6:10 pm

The email from the Provost to all students. Some of them are going to be severely disciplined.


1.    We have received recent information that there have been instances of unauthorised and unsupervised freshmen activities despite the University’s earlier instructions on this matter. Some students have flouted the rules, and behaved in an unacceptable manner in organising freshmen activities.
2.    With immediate effect, all student-organised freshmen activities at NUS (such as orientation camps, and freshmen activities in Halls, Residential Colleges, etc.) are suspended until further notice. Those responsible for unacceptable freshmen activities as well as unauthorised freshmen activities will be brought before the University’s Board of Discipline.
3.    The Freshmen Inauguration Ceremonies, Welcome Receptions by Deans, Heads of Department and Masters, as well as Faculty and Department briefings, will continue as scheduled. The NUSSU Rag and Flag activities, which raise funds for 22 Singapore charities, will continue.
4.    Freshmen orientation activities at NUS serve to welcome and introduce our freshmen to the university community. The University expects that orientation activities are carried out in ways that are fully respectful of the dignity of all those participating. Our students, particularly freshmen, must feel safe and secure at all times during orientation.
5.    The instances of unacceptable behaviour and activities that have surfaced this week play no part in a university education. They are out of line, and should never have happened. It is totally unacceptable for freshmen to be exposed to such situations.
6.    The University is conducting thorough investigations into these unacceptable as well as unauthorised activities. Any student who has concerns with freshmen activities can contact the NUS Office of Student Affairs at on a strictly confidential basis.
7.    Please approach your Dean/Hall Master/Residential College Master if you have any feedback or concerns.
8.    Thank you.

Prof Tan Eng Chye
Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost

Brexit: UK doing a GE

The Economist as I have come to expect is opinionated and narrow. It didn't occur to them that the UK is attempting the same strategy as GE but not a as clear since you can't compare a country to a company. GE sold its hugely successful arm as it restructure post Great Financial Crisis and reinvented itself through rebuilding from its industrial roots.

Economists in general are not known to be creative or imaginative. Did they think the British are so dumb to simply revive their losing past? I think they are going to do their own version of GE.

My other question is what is happening to finance? The Americans seem to want to turn as much of it as possible into boring utilities. To me the more creative and most valuable aspects would simply escape in the guise of their most innovative workers to set up business next door but no longer billed as finance. In this way finance would be made less risky and manageable for regulators but the risk didn't disappear. It would just have escaped tagging and monitoring into new fintech startups.

Pay day for MAS for serving two masters

Some of us have waited more than fifteen years for this day. We didn't actually start the timer but given that structure breeds behavior it was only a matter of time when our erstwhile financial regulators also took on the responsibility to be promoters as well. Just as no man can serve two masters, he had to choose one: promotion was placed ahead of regulation. Like SGX, MAS is now harvesting the seeds they allowed to be sowed.

Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) managing director Ravi Menon gave this stern warning yesterday when he said Singapore’s reputation as a clean financial centre has taken a hit after three banks here were found to have lapses in anti-money laundering controls in relation to financial transactions involving Malaysia’s state fund 1MDB. 
He said regulators had taken the unprecedented step of naming the three banks –DBS Bank and the Singapore branches of UBS and Standard Chartered Bank – last week and would continue to name and shame financial institutions found to have breached anti-money laundering rules.

I am watching how change is accelerating in the world of finance and there is nothing to suggest that we have anticipated or are prepared to not just deal with but ride the change. It is not just hopping onto Fintech. That is just copying from elsewhere. I long to see deep understanding that is setting the direction and driving the change here. Typically a minister or top official would have articulated it in an important speech but that is absent.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Minimalism: The War on Stuff

I have ignored this trend because I have little stuff to begin with. Quite a bit of my stuff have been digitized as well especially the photos, music, videos and of course books. My interest in the growing trend toward minimalism is purely macroeconomic. What if it causes GDP growth to fall? What makes sense for individuals and families sometimes do not for society and the economy. Your job depends on another consumption. I sense some Tragedy of the Commons in the works. I enter this unfamiliar world through this NYT article.

Presumptuous lessons from US elections

A very supportive friend which lend me a helping hand when I was starting my enterprise explained why she is supporting Trump by sharing a link to a blog post on Facebook.

As non Americans we need to go beyond the candidates for president to how Americans might vote. I hope the have and have-not gaps haven't become so wide that Trump is able to gather enough supporters to win the White House.

One person, one vote is quite fragile when we look at voters are none other than them and us. We take things for granted when things are going well. Democracy is in mortal danger when the broader society is badly divided, overly stressed and people are more emotional than rational. Voters rather than any foreigners become their own worst enemies.

People choose the facts to fit their feelings and not the other way round. That is how I see that they were supporting Trump. The men who understand this well is Timothy Geithner the former US Treasury secretary and his boss the President. How these men could bring the pitch fork to the bankers but you cannot do that without hurting those you are trying to protect even more.

If most people could really know what is best for themselves they would not have been suckered into helping to make the Great Financial Crisis of 2008 possible. Neither would we see them every day be cheated of their money by money grabbing doctors and financial advisers.

The lesson for us in Singapore is that democracy can be a very fragile system of governance and to make it work we must always make sure that voters are always rational and hard headed. It is much more than finding the right leaders.

Unfortunately I do not know how to put this lesson into practice. It can only at most serve as an early warning when things begin to go wrong. I don't see the PAP doing much about this too and I am two minds if they are the right people for that role since they are fighting elections every few years. The leaders who invest heavily in this was the late LKY because he brutally shaped our thoughts and habits to ensue our survival. Future generations must also have that survival and fighting instincts but who is going to put iron into them? We assume their families would do that but without supporting civic and religious organizations, I don't think it can be done. What about our justices and the President? What about the occasional larger than life humanitarian and public intellectual? I don't know.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Trump can persuade many

Finally I gave myself the chance to hear the man but only for the first 10 mins of this session with the well respected 60 minutes program.

The man doesn't talk any sense at all but I think he will succeed with quite a few, exactly how many I don't know because I don't feel the pulse of American society.

Just as people can be persuaded to buy useless doodads on TV they would buy his nonsensical shallow messages. I wonder how many voters are emotionally vulnerable to him. These are the ones who felt left behind and the present system work against them, however they try they will not do well. These people want to the change the entire system and that is what Trump is selling them. But like Brexit, Trump promises are just promises. He can't deliver but nevertheless can cause a lot of trouble especially outside America where there is no check and balance to stop him.

Update: July 20 5:15 am

Accusations of plagiarism against Melania Trump flew quick and fast. The Economist has even gotten creative with Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V as the typical Trump supporter probably doesn't know what that means i.e., copy and paste.

Melania Trump was of all things speaking about integrity whilst stealing parts of her speech from Michelle Obama. Not some obscure personality who spoke in a totally different context but during the 2008 DNC.

What an epic embarrassment for the Trumps. All these is reminding me of  Sarah Palin. It didn't stop with her. The juggernaut of idiocy and stretchable morals rolls on. Donald Trump, I am sure won't be apologizing if he can help it.

This is not available to the Dems to use against Trump, but what if as blunders and contradictions accumulate along the way, Trump supporters began to be self conscious that they might actually have little brains.

Update: July 20 1:20 pm

I won't go as far as him but in a relative sense I would agree.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Nice tragedy suggests how to defeat Daesh

Quoting the French PM in the article,

MrValls defended France’s record
on attacks, saying security services
had prevented 16 over three years
and said ISIS’ modus operandi of cajoling
unstable people into staging
attackswashard tocombat.
Daesh gives unstable individuals
an ideological kit that allows them
to make sense of their acts... This is
probably what happened in Nice’s
case,” he said, referring to the Arabic
acronym for ISIS.

Immediately that suggest an obvious strategy to use against Daesh. Turn them into losers and they will not be attractive to these criminals and deviants as some ideological kit to give them them confidence and motivation to carry out their heinous acts. It is important that Daesh is humiliated and defeated soundly in any places where they have claims to territory.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Anxious about new PSLE?

I have been there done that. I am sure parents will always be anxious about the PSLE to the point that if the government scrapped it they will be anxious there is no PSLE. Government should already be smart about this behavior long ago.

The objective of the new PSLE from the little I have time for is that pupils no longer focus on beating their peers and shift their attention toward getting into the band they are aiming for. This is the same strategy we have been using in this household and I am sure we are not unique. What we have always done is to get the school's record and estimate the bands the kids need to be in in order to move on successfully. Say 70% of their secondary school cohort has 7 distinctions, 30% with 6A1s or better then if they are in the top 20% the chance of them getting into a good JC is very high. Then we repeat the same exercise using the JC past A level performance to target the results we want etc., which by then you want to at least have 4 H2 As.

MOE have simply made it easier for parents what I used to do with my children.

From my experience this new PSLE will for most families reduce academic stress and give them more confidence and time to pursue other interests. But to get rid of PSLE anxiety, forget it. That can only happen if you are a bo-chap parent or do not have any kids.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Change in car policies?

I think there is a smoking gun pointing to a change in government attitude toward car ownership and use here, which is not made known to the public. This first got my attention when they relax loan restrictions for buying new cars, the way they are accommodating industry disrupters like Uber and Grab. Now this.

What does Car-lite mean. To me it means the total number of cars go down but the existing stock of cars are run much harder. It also mean more cars will have more than just someone driving himself about most of the time as well. Eventually the majority of cars would be driverless. The end point is easy to tell but the journey there is much harder. This is tricky business as land transport is a highly politicised topic. I imagine this is best done with a little public interference as much as possible, by stealth if possible.

One of those changes could be a shift from fixing car population like we have seen since the 90s toward targeting prices as a higher priority leading to car population reduction. In other words COE prices will be kept high. Liberalizing car loans and shrinking COE quotas help to bring this about. Allowing Uber, Grab and their wannabes to compete for the same scarce COEs will help to achieve the same result rapidly. Eventually the taxi fleets would become smaller, which is probably helped by drivers quitting.

Car transport is becoming like our meals. We eat out often on plates that we do not own and wash afterward, we will also increasingly be riding in cars that are not registered under our names which we never need to worry about maintaining as well.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Huawei: PRC Chinese different understanding of honesty

Only managed to look at this old email this morning but it stayed with me because I connected it with Jack Ma bad attitude about fake goods sold on Alibaba platforms: he claimed often the fakes are better than the genuine, but the rest of us outside China could tell he has a serious blind spot about intellectual property. But what has that got to do with Huawei P9 phone? The link is blind dishonesty or you don't know you are dishonest. Because it is probably not wrong that the P9 Leica lens could take shots similar to the Canon 5D under certain conditions for certain subjects. To justify the deceit they probably tell themselves most owners probably cannot tell the difference. I am afraid lots of Chinese enterprises have a too practical attitude toward right and wrong. I have bought enough stuff from them off eBay to notice this habit.

To buy from the Chinese you need to know the product well because they will not hesitate to take advantage of your ignorance. Most of them who get a really good deal from the Chinese are the industrial buyers purchasing on specifications and tests for quality assurance.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Negative Surprises with Annuities

Got this in the mail from the Economist this morning which I no longer subscribe. I am sure I can find the same info elsewhere and often there is no need to either or I will end up the whole day reading instead of working. 

Just imagine if they achieve a big leap here and also a couple of major killer diseases. What would happen to life expectancy and how would it affect annuity plans? I think it would be under a lot of financial distress and the possibility of some of them going broke would no longer be theoretical. 

You might not want to work after you reached retirement age, but doing things you enjoy or do not mind and getting paid is going to make more sense. Retirement lasting decades without income is simply fantasy for most people. Even if you have robots to do most of the work, there would be endless argument and even civil war over income distribution. Technology is taking us farther and faster than we know how to handle. Time to prepare by reading some good Scifi which explore moral and social issues. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Need stronger and more attractive Islam

This war against Islamic Terrorism is not about bodies but ideas and hearts. Many must be shocked to read that the perpetrators of the attack in Dhaka were all youths from affluent families. I suppose they had everything in life except meaning. Pity they didn't have something to worry about keeping them alive searching for answers. Since they were already nominally Muslim, what they failed to receive is a less known peaceful and truer Islam. If you are not a Muslim reading this you won't know what I mean. Myself I only know it not from Islam directly but Christianity. How true Christianity is not as often taught vis a vis Prosperity and Self Help Christianity. At least the Christian versions in this age do not resort to violence, which it once did. I hope we never return to that, but you never know do you?

Look at this, what sort of deviant Buddhism is this? Of all the religions, the commitment to non violence is clear in Buddhism but for the wickedness of man which exists across all religion. These people also need the peaceful and truer Buddhism.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Other pastors waiting to be jailed

One such pastor down, there must be some more to go. They probably know who they are but we don't. Time will expose them and each will have their moment of ignominy in the media. This is nothing exceptional. In Thailand it is the same but they are presented as saffron roped monks. For us it is pastors. How to tell? It is quite easy. Just examine the state of the religious community. If the the pastor presents as a tycoon Christ, live it up Jesus with the regular worship experience modeling on a band concert to match. Jesus as the self help guru perhaps but most important of all the word "SIN" is taboo. God has forgiven your sin past, present and future. There is no need to visit that issue. You see this happening and getting pervasive, they are also making such pastors like this one in the picture.

Then the churches is not where you find God but the door to somewhere else. Where else can it be right?

What is said in court judgement about the pastor and his victim.

In his 39-page judgment, District Judge Shawn Ho said both parties were like "chalk and cheese" - the pastor being "polished and glib" and Mr Tay "sincere, straightforward and artless".

Friday, July 1, 2016

Saving Syrian Refugees: The Canadian Response

NYT brings us a beautiful story! The Canadians tend to offer help from the heart and usually in an understated way. Now they are at it again. Work takes me away from setting aside the time now to read this. This is not something I want to rush through. So this post is a reminder to return and take it a its best pace.

Meanwhile I have found myself often contemplating if I should quit my Straits Times subscription. My siblings already have sometime back. Just buy the papers on weekends should be good enough.

Update: 1:30pm

I just have to read at least part of it. I think I read about 10% and know I have to return another time.