Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Ink spilled for exams

A graphic way to explain how much she wrote for her econs exams in the morning.

I bought her twelve of this good writing Zebra pens recently. They were going one for one and her preferred writing instrument for the coming A levels.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Curtain down for Bathesda Book Centre

If I cared to search this blog, I must have blogged about Bethesda Book Centre or BBC previously. They have been slowly retrenching themselves from the Christian book selling market. The outlet at Toa Payoh which I used to frequent has been shuttered for a while now. I vaguely recall visiting their Marine Parade outlet once and now that is closing too.

Even as Christianity is adding members (I didn't say believers) they are also showing signs of decline. I don't have to the time to explain myself here but people basically want God as problem server and Santa Claus. So when you are dead when all problems cease and you cannot make use of any gift, I suppose the relationship can come to an end at that point. I didn't feel this as strongly before until March this year seeing how my friend's daughter passed away.

I happened to come across this in my KIV folder which I do not know what to do with it. This would be good a place for it.

Personally I prefer to put it this way from John White, The Cost of Commitment.

"The Way of the Cross is a magnificent obsession with a heavenly pearl pearl against which everything else in life has not value"

Of course as I look around the problem with Dr. White's statement is not that there is anything wrong but how it is lived.

This is most frustrating and on balance I rather see people not putting God as central than pretending to put him on the throne of their lives. The former has hope but the latter I am afraid are likely done for. If you passed off a diamond which is made of glass as the real thing, how is anyone going to convince you that it is fake? You already have your self esteem built on it, are you prepared to tear it down and start over? If you were after the genuine diamond you would never have agreed to the fake in the first place. But people want a God they can control, which perversely they do not want to admit that desire. The Real Thing has a mind of its own then they didn't mind if it was a false god as long as they have control. After a while they believed the false is real. The only practical way I could cope with this is to believe I am never completely sure I am getting this right. I can't handle this.

Zika just might seriously affect the adult brain

Until now only pregnant women and their family are terribly worried about being infected with the Zika virus. Now everyone has reason to be at least a little anxious. The Zika virus just might wreak havoc on us sometime down the road. One possibility is during those moments when our immune system is weakened. These are early days but that is what some researchers have recently discovered and published in their preliminary findings. Much and urgent work remains.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Die before it becomes too dreadful

My sis shared this on Facebook a few days ago and I only just read it. Not easy, it will fill you with grief. We do not know how to handled planned death. Many have outsourced this to religion and forget about it until they are terminally ill. As observers we asked what is the point of extreme suffering if there is no return to health. Death ends everything.

Did Lazarus the dead of three days guy in the Bible tell others what he was living through during the time he was dead and buried. Looked like he didn't know what happened, i.e., nothing happened. There was nothing. It could also be the secrets of death must be left behind if one ever return from there.

A mere few decades away we will find ourselves with the means to prolong life but not afford it. What shall we do? I guess we have no choice and it is also a bridge that you can't know what you are talking about until you are about to cross it.

Additional cooling for IT equipment

A few days ago, I replicated this simple cooling method for our ONT. My mini PC has been using this method to provide additional cooling for several months. I bought 7 and 8 inch Cooler Master fans off eBay. They are very good working with little noise and no fuss. Finally I can replace those clunky Cooler Masters which were built more for Notebook PCs use.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Closest star harbors an exoplanet.

This is so exciting. So near and yet so far. I had often thought we would need to journey much longer distances to see a possible earth like planet. Didn't think that our next closest star to our Sun, Proxima Centauri has a possible candidate.

Perhaps the galaxies are teeming with planets and more than there are people on earth!

See article.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

SR Nathan: Multimillionaire President I never knew

Two minutes after Today broke the news on Facebook my tablet beeped. Why did I think he was well and good, at home in his house which I sometimes drove by? Only the breaking news reminded that he was hospitalized at SGH. I didn't even remember Joseph Schooling visit him. Now it dawned on me he is someone to know personally and not at a distance. When he was President many of those who do not know him felt he was over paid for the work he did. Now I bet as the media and those who knew him tell their stories of their relationships and encounters with him, folks will know it was never the money.

SR Nathan was to Singapore what Shimon Peres is to Israel isn't it? I don't know, this is only my starting point for getting to know him. What a shame I do not know my President but I think I would over the next few days. Rest in peace Mr. SR Nathan.

No personality cults or myths making here. The stories emerge only after they are gone.

Update: Aug 23 12:55pm

I have hoped someone will offer this photo which I vividly remember and I didn't have to wait long :-)

Update: Aug 23 9:25pm

Another special one popped up and also a re-acquaintance with this word, "sui generis"

See the full tribute here.

Update: Aug 23 9:40 pm

Just stumbled upon this, an email from our consulate when we were living in Dubai. We didn't manage to go in the end but I heard from other Singaporeans who were there the President was very tired and didn't spend much time with them.

Monday, August 22, 2016

PM gave us a scare

Last night the PM gave us a real scare. On the minds of many our initial reaction must have been associating what was developing with what Heng Swee Keat went through a few months back. But the PM sprung back on his feet after some rest. We were very lucky.

I don't buy Tharman and his colleagues explanation of the PM's condition. Just look across the world to America. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are all older. The rigors of campaigning to be President is worse than any political office here. No trite excuses. This is nothing less than a shot across the bow for us not to take things for granted.

What is the difference between LHL and the other names? It is the many years he has toiled. Look at what eight years have done to Obama. Another four more years were that possible would be ill advised. This job takes a lot out of a person.

We have been put on notice.

Because she is one of ours

I wanted to write about this two days ago. I remember the Singaporean doctors who saved her. I have never met them and like most I only followed the story from the media. These doctors went out of their way to bring her back to SGH for only one simple reason: She is one of ours!

Now Megan Loy is paying if forward by training to be a doctor.

This is beautiful. She has such wonderful parents too.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Food: Joseph Schooling gets it

It is the food silly! Food is very serious business and I am just glad Joseph Schooling understood and shared that. His choice: dark sauce carrot cake is personal but the concept is completely Singaporean. Our identity begins and evolves from here and I hope one day we have our version of  Thanksgiving Day as well.

If you understand anthropology, religion and culture then you know it begins here. For ancient civilization it is their bread, the sustainer of life. We are modern and our choice is diverse.

Even Jesus said, "I am the bread of life"

Do not underestimate food even from me who basically eat to live and do not even bother to celebrate Chinese New Year ever since my parents passed away.

Excellent shot Seah Kwang Peng.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Law of contempt remains largely the same?

Law on contempt remains largely the same? Perhaps it is if you are lawyer but to the rest of us who has no time and must look at this briefly and be completely practical about it, day has become night. How so? Because we do not know what we can or cannot do. There are definitely somethings we could but now we can't. So people will play it safe and Lee Wei Ling would be right that this has the effect of muzzling public discourse. We did not vote in a government to make the job easier but to be principled and do things right.

For a few years I did not understand why the AG could not take AHTC or formerly AHPETC to court only to recently discover it had everything to do with how the town council act was drafted and passed into law. Those few years I thought the PAP was simply politicizing the whole issue. It wasn't. As political communicators the PAP has much to learn and improve.

Now I need to find the time to go and read in the original what did Dr. Lee exactly say. Guess I trust her more than the Law Minister. She isn't a lawyer but I trust like her late father her heart is completely dedicated to Singapore. The other ministers I sometimes wonder what is their price. Staying in power at all costs? Party above nation?

Update: 10:50 pm

This might be helpful sometime but it also looks like common sense. I never had the urge to treat the courts with contempt ever.

Here is what is or isn't contempt of court

Looks like Donald Trump would be in contempt if he lives here and behave the way he did against the Hispanic judge presiding over the case brought against him.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Joseph Schooling victory parade

The young athlete conduct was exemplary. He has done Singapore proud like no other athlete ever has. Sports is big these days and so if you score big it is nothing less than huge. It is quite a feat to bag gold with three others runner ups and one of them was Michael Phelps to boot. There is not likely to another Olympian like Phelps for sports just like we have not seen the likes of another Einstein in science.

As I watched and enjoyed the celebration over Joseph Schooling's achievement, I noticed the young fellow never let it go to his head. On the other hand I am starting to worry about ourselves. Have we gone overboard with all these? It is becoming like organizations coming out to out do each other extolling our first gold medalist Olympian. I just saw the photo above and I pointed out to my daughter that this is beginning to look like a victorious Roman general just saved the Empire and is returning to a victory parade!

If you were an American gold medalist Olympian even of  Michael Phelps class you still have your life but Joseph Schooling just unwittingly sold himself to Singapore. This is a very heavy burden on the shoulder of a young man. They better support him very well for the 2020 Olympics. The pressure to do even better would be tremendous and much greater than getting his (should say our) first gold.

I hope we never see war but if are unfortunate to have to fight for our survival, would the returning victorious commander be feted this way as well? Something tell me he/she won't be. Yes, why should the commander necessarily be a man?

Let joy overflow and celebrate for the rest of this week but I think it is important to have a sense of proportion as well.

I think it is a matter of time we will also achieve our first Science Nobel Prize. How would we celebrate that?

Joseph Schooling has shown us that it is possible for this tiny red dot to reach for the stars. Well remember the first ones to reach there but not much heralded were actually our founding fathers who created the socio-political platform to make this and more possible. And we never gave them a victory parade.

Update: Aug 16 11:20 am

Well said! Always prefer others to say it for me. Saves me a lot of time! See article.

But having said so a bureaucracy can never good parents to anyone. So don't try to be but be an enabler. Be more noble and shake that glass is half empty attitude, worse that the grass is greener next door.

Update: Aug 16 10:35 pm

Good article on this topic in the ST today.

Financially for many it is a struggle. The failure rate is very high. Nobody do this for the money but the passion and glory. Compared to the Americans, our athletes are very fortunate. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Lithium Batteries

The Samsung Li-Ion battery I ordered off Qoo10 arrived today (S$23). The OEM one didn't last very long - only months and I regretted not making an entry when I purchased it. The original with the phone is so bloated now even when in storage, I didn't want to risk the gases inside escaping or worse and took it to the recycling bin at the community centre to dispose.

Update: 8:30pm

Found in my expense worksheet I bought the OEM battery on Feb 1 this year for $25. So it lasted only about six months before it began to swell. Pretty short life.

Practical Democracy

Elizabeth Drew's article in Project Syndicate is something for the people of Hong Kong to immediately pause and think about and for us here in Singapore to always bear in mind.

I quote her,
From the outset, America’s founders were aware of the dangers of government by plebiscite. Alexander Hamilton worried about giving power to the people because “they seldom judge or determine right.” Fearing “an excess of democracy,” they interposed institutional buffers between the popular will and government decisions.
The wisdom of that structure imposed by their founding fathers has never been more needful than now against a crazy and erratic demagogue like Donald Trump.

So this is being pragmatic about Democracy from of all people the overly zealous Americans themselves.

Secret Lab Chair: After nine months

That is what we spent the afternoon of National Day doing - fixing an old but quality Steelcase office chair I had been using for at least 15 years. We hold up and reinforce the supporting rod with with four old copies of the Economist and some cardboard.  estimated that this pseudo-wood would be good enough to withstand the compression of me seating - material science knowledge from engineering school.

After nine months I decided this old chair is still better than the Secret Lab gaming chair. Those guys haven't got sufficient insight about building chairs and I am also not very good at choosing a replacement. On hindsight I should have saved the money and use some home fix solution. It's not perfect but good enough.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

51st Independance Day: Waiting for the next LKY

Each parade is memorable but there are now fifty of them and humanly speaking you can't remember most of them except their common features. However the 49th would always be remembered as LKY's last one with us.

After George Washington America had to wait for almost a century before Abraham Lincoln and she will have to find another Lincoln some time. Why? Because even if history does not repeat itself it rhymes powerfully. Every modern day President looks to Lincoln for inspiration. We will need another LKY some day. That is just our lot in life. The American story is still very short but just look at Chinese history, to those moments when they had their remarkable emperors or leaders. They are more alike each other than different. Simply put geopolitics creates a unique space for a certain type of leader for each society. Just as Americans saw in their founding fathers, we have ours too.

Majulah Singapura!

Update: 11:50am

The sight of his late father sitting there would be remembered by him at every NDP

Monday, August 8, 2016

China's unveiled threat to Singapore

Click on pic to get it to a readable size.

" as to advance Sino-Singapore realtions..." China is insisting that we adopt their view of the nine dashed line in the South China Sea. Reminiscent of Warring States period this is taking us down one by one beginning with Cambodia and Laos.

The Chinese are no good at talking, that is the western powers forte. They are good at big and intimidating display of coercive power. Singapore insistence on dealing with any other power as equals is now put to perhaps its severest test.

Regarding the South China Sea and the East China Sea, there is no other way to deal with China except to line up an even stronger set of powers against her, even that she will not give up but keep strengthening her armed forces to exceed what you can bring against her. China sees hegemony of these seas as tantamount to protecting its sovereignty and ensuring its security. The collateral and almost as desirable benefit is all Asian states would than serve Chinese interests with them deciding what is good for the rest of us. China as hegemon will not dictate how we should live like she does with the Uighurs forbidding them from even practicing Islam. What she will do is make every state put Chinese interests ahead of theirs and the rest is up to us. Sure the US does the same but yet in practice it would be very different. The Chinese have no concept or understanding of liberty much less belief in a benevolent higher power and value system that desire to see everyone happy and prosperous.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A beautiful human interest story in NY

Simply just a simple story of a simple man from the NYT. Funny so many articles I read on the NYT is pointed to me from outside the NYT when I am a long time subscriber.

I find this story so beautiful I want to be able to find my way back to it any time.

Explaining hardcore Trump supporters

I think the Economist gets it and tell it well too. From the email I received from them.

Link to article.

Quoting from the article,

For this correspondent, this distinction was eerily reminiscent of political talk in Russia, from which he reported for a few years in the mid-noughties. There, beneath the veneer of adoration for Vladimir Putin, cynicism reigned. There was no point installing a new cadre of leaders, many people confided, since they would simply start the process of stealing from the state all over again. Many Russians reserved especial scorn for supposedly westernising politicians, who banged on about corruption but were as much on the take, their compatriots thought, as the Rolex-sporting denizens of the Kremlin. The westernisers were crooks too, but dishonest crooks, and thus even more contemptible than the straightforward sort.

These Don lovers do not like Barack Obama as well and I think they won't accept much less vote for a black Abraham Lincoln either. In practical politics they are a lost cause for the Democrats. The strategy is to reduce Trump's supporters to its core which would be insufficient for him to win. The rest of us especially those outside America and in Asia are just appalled at the prospect of a Trump presidency. We mostly think he is unfit for the job of President and a global security risk.

Perhaps Mr Trump’s campaign is on the verge of implosion, as some optimistic commentators and Democrats predict; perhaps another gaffe or two, about veterans or babies—or, indeed, about Mr Putin—will tip him over the edge. On the other hand, that may be wishful thinking; it is equally likely that many of these perceived missteps are not gaffes at all, but conscious moves to reinforce Mr Trump’s image as champion of the people against a rigged, suffocating system. The evidence of the Tennessee general store is that further revelations about his business shenanigans, at least, are unlikely to have much impact. Apparently his fatalistic supporters know what he is, and, if they don’t exactly love him for it, in a face-off with his opponent, they prefer their charlatanry straight
In America today with have pots calling pots or kettles calling kettles black. Your virtue is the other side hypocrisy and vice versa. They should just learn to get along or run the risk of becoming more and more divided. That would simply be priming for another civil war.

There will always at least be a sizable minority whose idea of the future is more or less a repeat of the past. We are facing the same challenge here as well. We are probably moving and changing as fast as we can handle already.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Safety and Hygiene: Let them get much worse first

Stories on safety lapses often read like hygiene lapses and vice versa. It is a culture problem. If we can keep public toilet clean then most of our hygiene problems in preparing food would also disappear. This continuous wagering that customers will not end up with food poisoning is the same risky attitude our businesses bring to work environments. It is like running across the road many times successfully but unsafely. Now if you do that enough times, one day you will get run over by a car or perhaps something bigger and surer of killing you. Look at the Subcontinent, China, Taiwan and Sout Korea, they have the same work and food safety problems as well.

When I was a kid I was always amazed and impressed with the level of cleanliness at all our McDonalds outlets. It is very different today, and there are too many infractions to enumerate. Just this afternoon we were at their new and spanking restaurant at the East Coast Park, the chairs were sticky and we had to clean it ourselves. As we tucked in our meal I saw staff half heartedly cleaning tables, which against the lighting I could see the table tops were not completely wiped. Their staff used to take pride in their work but not any more.

NEA, AVA, MOM whatever enforcement against safety and hygiene lapses will continue to be ineffective if habits do not change. Then we will just have to let get worse to the point of crossing the red line: alarming rise in food poisoning cases or worse before we act. Dengue has crossed that red line and demanded huge resources to respond successfully. On safety and hygiene it looks like the government and people are waiting for more suffering and deaths before acting. I think not doing much is the right thing if given time the situation right itself but even if you have only a fraction of a brain you know this is not going to happen.

Replacing the Note 4 battery again

Can't tell when I got the battery that is in my Note 4 now. I only know I bought it at a neighborhood shop and it is less than a year old. I should have blogged about it as now I can't track this. This "new" battery is slightly swollen and I know that because I can no longer do a screen swipe to get a screenshot. That took me a long time to find out when I had the same problem with the original Samsung battery.

Should I upgrade to the Note 7? I haven't been thinking much about this. By and large I am happy with my Note 4 but I found ever since I upgraded the OS it has slowed down. Perhaps I need to clean up the phone and start from factory condition?

I might consider the Note 7 if its camera is much better than the Note 4. The S6 the kids have take very nice photos and I think the S7 must be even better. What about the Note 7?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Obama explains why Trump is unfit as President

An off topic question but an extremely vital one President Obama took when facing the media with our PM. Obama painstakingly explained why Trump is unfit to be President.

I can't get the version I first saw which had the reporter's question but this will do.

Here from the anti-Obama media the Fox News channel offering Trump the right of reply but the incompetent Trump just blew it.

The ball is in Trump's court to prove to those undecided if he is unfit to occupy the Oval Office.

Perception matters Trump, you know it better than me. So go and get this right if you can but I don't think you can. From here it is down the slippery slope for you because you can't adapt to changing circumstances and most important you can't control your own impulses. If you were President it is easy to see that you would be the weakest link to American power and influence. The enemies of the US will only need to bait you into financial, economic, diplomatic and military battles of their own time and place. That is serial ambushes on all fronts. What would become of your great country after four years? I think Congress will impeach you even before you get to the end of your first year.