Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Finally... salvation

Fighting against fungus and mould in hot and humid Singapore is tough.
Especially when you are a much neglected lens.

You need a nice home.

Like the one below:


Monday, March 30, 2009

Eff One

The shenanigans of 2009 melbourne grand prix.

It's a farce.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Slave to the details


I'm in urgent need of getting Turn On The Bright Lights by Interpol and The Hazards Of Love by The Decemberists.

I'm surprised that I'll actually like something found on Pitchfork's Top 50 albums list. Top of the list in 2002 some more. Wah..

I'll come around

when you're down.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The 165 million bonus scandal

What is 165 million compared to 170 billion?
First we have to establish what is a million?

That's easy. One, followed by 6 zeroes. 1,000,000.

A billion is trickier. It could be 1,000,000,000 or 1,000,000,000,000. Depending on the scale.
Most English speaking countries, including the US, use the former.

So a billion in our context refers to a thousand million or one, followed by 9 zeroes, 1,000,000,000.

So 165 million of 170 billion in percentage terms is .......

165,000,000 ÷ 170,000,000,000 = 165 ÷ 170,000 = 0.000970588235 x 100% = 0.0970588235%.

The numbers aren't even astronomical but 165 million already seems huge. I can't fathom 170 billion.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Churchill - ahead of his time

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

~ Winston Churchill

When it is difficult to appease the mob, you throw an array of "Acts" at them.

Act 1: Economic Stimulus Act.
Act 2: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Make it sound bombastic but always end your sentences with ".....and what this means is that it will do (insert undeliverable promise for majority here) for you." *yawn* Rhetoric. Joe Klein from Time will lend unabashed support. No problem.

Plenty of local support here too. The local leadership thinks that the US economy is "fundamentally sound" because of reassurances by US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's remarks last month that the economy would pick up by 2010, once the government's stimulus package frees up lending to households and businesses.

Why do I smell a a Principal-Agent problem in the above scenario? Will Mr Bernanke tell China to stop buying more into US government's debt? Sounds like a pyramid scam? Wasn't the whole mortgage loan scandal just a legal form of Madoff scheme??

Singapore says no to protectionism. Everybody criss-crossed their arms to hold hands at ASEAN Summit, vowing to say no to protectionism too.
Malaysia says "Buy Malaysia" campaign. In the same month of the summit.

I like Keynes. But will fiscal stimulus save us? If so, by how much and in return, will there be any cost?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

New Media

In the past, I used to think that people who are knowledgeable are incredibly fascinating.
Now I think the person who is able to source for the needed knowledge and value-add is superior.
Being a knowledge silo is boring. Being able to create knowledge that is of importance and relevance is much more interesting.

I love that fact that new media has gotten many authorities back-peddling. The ruling party up north obviously did. And I think most authorities are finding all sorts of ways to discredit, disallow and disable new media. They ban certain activities and outlaw them on old media, as if they are able to control the internet. They say people who partake in new media are seditious, cowards and generally societal miscreants. They buy over established new media or create them in their official or unofficial capacities, telling the netizens that it is only by playing by their rules will you be recognised.

Bah. Save me from your good intentions.

I secretly think that new media is getting stronger and stronger each day. And I am McLovin' it.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My folly

auntie was asking me about the cover of The Crying Light.
i said it was Kazuo Ohno, and that the album was dedicated to her.

it's a him.

My latest buys

From top:
Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
Antony & The Johnsons - The Crying Light
U2 - No Line On The Horizon
Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes (with free Sun Giant EP)
Spiritualized - Songs In A&E

Friday, March 20, 2009

Moments of folly

(Yaakov) Elazari and (Yehuda) Golan complained to Lee (Kuan Yew) and Goh (Keng Swee), but the Prime Minister was undeterred. "I want you to recruit the most primitive people in the country, the uneducated and the jobless," he told them. Stunned, the Israelis tried to persuade him to reconsider, but he was adamant: "In the Second World War, I saw the Japanese and the British. All the British soldiers were intelligent and educated. But as soldiers they were worthless. The most primitive Japanese soldier gets an order and executes it, and they were extraordinary soldiers. The fact is that the Japanese army defeated the British army."

Golan says, "Yaakov and I tried to explain to him that it's not a question of education but of motivation. The Japanese soldier was motivated because he was fighting for his emperor, who for him was God. For him, he was ready to sacrifice his life. What motivation did the British soldier have, who fought thousands of kilometres from his home?" The explanations about the spirit of combat and about how to generate motivation persuaded Lee.

To Ron

Ron Weir
1945 ~ 2009

It is with great sadness that the University announces the death of Dr Ron Weir, Provost of Derwent College and Senior Lecturer in Economic History.

Ron, who passed away on Saturday 14 March, joined the University in 1970 and had been Provost of Derwent since 1982. Ron was an expert in Scottish and Irish Economic History, business history and the history of the whisky industry.

Dr Jane Grenville, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Students said, "This is appalling news and our thoughts are with Ron's family. Ron was a well-known and longstanding member of the University. Students and staff will be shocked and saddened, as will generations of York students who remember him with great affection. Ron was a towering figure in the University in every sense - we will all miss him very much."

Professor Peter Simmons, Head of the Department of Economics and Related Studies, "Everyone in the Department is deeply distressed by the news, and we will treasure the memory of his wit and wisdom over the years."

The funeral will take place at 12 noon on Friday 27 March at York Crematorium. A reception will follow at 1pm in Derwent Dining Hall. If you would like to attend the reception, please contact Chris Unwin on clu1@york.ac.uk by 25 March.

Oh I remember Ron. Provost of Derwent College. Great big man. In the mould of a portly Englishman, not unlike Benny Hill. He was huge. His size was matched by his generosity. I remember having dinner with him and his wife at the little cottage near the Derwent bridge within the first week of arriving in York. It was his way of welcoming foreign students into Derwent College. That was also where I first met Mahesh. Ron lectured Economics and Social History. He was an expert on the development of industries, including potable spirits like brandy, gin, rum, whisky and vodka. His PhD was on the Scotch Whisky Industry.

His voice was booming. And his thick accent lent a great amount of authority when he talked about the British Industrial Revolution, Great Ireland Famine, Rise and Fall of the British Economy, The Thatcher years....That voice, riding on his stature, will not be heard in the lecture halls of Vanbrugh and Langwith College forever more.

Rest in peace Dr Ron.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


When it comes to grief (as a topic of academic study), there is the famed K├╝bler-Ross model of 5 Stages of Grief:

Denial - "No! This can't be happening to me!" Stage.
Anger - "Who caused this to happen to me?" Stage.
Bargain - "Please let me a little leeway" Stage.
Depression - "I'm never going to live through this" Stage.
Acceptance - "No matter what, I must continue to live a fulfilling life" Stage.

There is also the Charles Schulz model of a single stage Grief:

It's Friday!

Monday, March 16, 2009


last week, warrant tupaz became mister tupaz.

how does it feel to leave a job that you have had for 38 years. a job you started when you were 16 plus. he was in the navy longer than i have been on earth.

he was worried about how he's wife will take to him being around the house during office hours.

he was not sure if not having a job will suit him. going by the latest available statistics, he will have about 2 score and 4 years to go before he returns his pink ic.

i don't think mister tupaz can remember the last time he saw his pink ic.

i have not seen my pink ic since april 1998. that's 11 years ago.

he talked about being a taxi-driver (he obtained a taxi license more than 10 years ago) and also about sitting inside the security post (he thinks a condominium security guard is overpaid).

he joked about wanting death to come early. because he does not know what is he suppose to do now. he is only 55.

my uncle (grandma's oldest son) is in his early 70s. he has been working at the same metal workshop since he was 9. his current boss is the grandson of the boss who hired him. if i am not wrong, meals are still provided at where he works. he does not do much everyday. turns up for work and will provide assistance only when required. he's expertise is in bending metal rods manually (as opposed to computer assisted) into chairs. he does not earn much. but neither will he be retrenched nor told to retire.

he's held his pink ic ever since it was introduced.

allan ooi has returned his pink ic without ever seeing it since he started his job. he didnt like it and somehow felt he was unable to leave.

i passed my chance to see my ic in june last year. and i just received a reminder that i have to update the photo.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Labrador Park

Last night after Raeburn Park (and ice-cream), we traipsed down to Labrador Park on a whim.
It was auntie's suggestion.
It's so different from the last time I saw it.

I think another visit is due soon.

Oh and Haw Par Villa (Tiger Balm Gardens) too.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Seventh Heaven @ Raeburn Park

Raeburn Park is located at the former Gan Eng Seng School.
A cul-de-sac next to Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, next to Spottiswoode Park.

Hiding in the old school compound is Seventh Heaven, a ice-cream parlour that sells "artisanal" ice-cream creations. It offers customised premium ice creams to suit your palate as well.

The website will give you more information.

auntie and I had sandwiches - tuna melt and sesame chicken. The tuna melt fillings were more familiar, tuna chucks with mayo (I think) purple cabbage and onions. The sesame chicken fillings were sesame chicken slices, carrots and pineapple. I don't think I've had a sandwich with carrots and pineapple in it.

Then there was the ice-cream.

auntie chose lychee martini, mango and peanut butter for the Sampler Menu I, which is an item from the menu for you to select 3 flavours.
I ordered Sampler Menu II, which is the item whereby the house selects the 3 flavours for you.
And we were given green tea, chocolate & whiskey and irish cream liqueur - popular flavours.

The ice-cream was delicious. Rich and creamy. No pictures. Maybe next time.

They are supposedly crowded on Friday and Saturday nights after 8pm. We left at 7:45pm and the place was empty. I suppose the crowd is punctual.

Friday, March 13, 2009

mental note

mental note to self: need to get new albums by antony and the johnsons, m. ward as well as 1 other band whose name i just cannot remember right now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Reader and late night conversations

Danger will only increase my love,
it will sharpen it,
it will give it spice.
I'll be the only angel you need.
On this arm, Luise,
you will go dancing through life.
You will leave life even more beautiful than you entered it.
Heaven will take you back
and look at you and say
"Only one thing can make a soul complete,
and that thing is love."
~ The Reader

Maybe that is why she chose to die.

I think the movie is about making choices and taking actions, thereby causing effects. Effects of which may be unintended and may cause one to regret much later. Or not.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Said to have claimed

Siti, a 7 year old girl fell through a gap in the metal railing near where she lives. Dropped 4 storeys, and miraculously survived, albeit multiple fractures.

Her family said the gap was reported in December to the Bukit Merah Town Council. But the latter last night said it could find no record of the call.
The poor girl's uncle, Mr Muhammad Syukri, 20, currently unemployed was the one who reportedly called the town council three months ago about the broken railing. He claimed he was told someone would be sent to check on it. “I didn’t hear from them, I don’t know if they came or not.”

How come when there is a dispute of whether or not a call was made, the paper chose to state that the BMTC "said" it could find no record of the call but the girl's uncle could only "claimed" that he was told someone would be sent to check on it.

Said - to express in words, to state as an opinion or belief
Claimed - to assert in the face of possible contradiction

When do you normally use "said" and what can make you decide to use "claimed" instead?

Way back in 2005, when Katrina struck New Orleans, a black man was reported to have "looted" food from a grocery store while 2 white people "found" food from a grocery store. (available on boingboing "black people loot, white people find?").

Enough of my nonsense. I hope the girl gets better soon.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Foolish to advocate the learning of dialects

We have achieved progress with our bilingual education in the past few decades. Many Singaporeans are now fluent in both English and Mandarin. It would be stupid for any Singapore agency or NTU to advocate the learning of dialects, which must be at the expense of English and Mandarin.

That was the reason the Government stopped all dialect programmes on radio and television after 1979. Not to give conflicting signals, then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew also stopped making speeches in Hokkien, which he had become fluent in after frequent use since 1961.

Chee Hong Tat
Principal Private Secretary
to the Minister Mentor

I don't know if the past can necessarily point the way to our future?

I definitely felt that the above was a strongly worded response.

I enjoy speaking teochew with my friends and especially my family. Enjoy. Because there is a certain closeness in the speaking the language which I was brought up with. There is an immediate connection. It's just different (and challenging) trying to explain what a slightly raw banana tastes like or how fantastic the fishball in my meepok dry is at the first bite.

I am sure PPS to PM had statistical evidence to prove that [our] bilingual education had achieved progress. Just as I am sure he will have statistical evidence to prove that the government had overwhelming success with the family planning campaign (Stop At Two and then replaced by Have Three Or More. If You Can Afford It). Government used to think F1 is a waste of time too. And that MRT stations do not need to be wheelchair-friendly. Lifts in HDB apartments do not need to stop at every floor.

Do I sense a little hubris in celebrating our present successes?

Foolish to advocate the learning from only the past?

My last 4 movies.

The Wrestler is about sticking to what you are familiar with. Because an old dog really cannot learn new tricks. Friends and family may forsake you. But your fans, they never give up. Not until you do.

Slumdog Millionaire is about destiny. The answer was given at the end of the movie. And that whatever your destination may be, always strive to be kind to others whom you meet along the way.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is about forgiveness and keeping an open mind. Because the people who done you wrong have their reason(s). And mixing freely with whoever you may meet can grant you access to places you never ever dreamed of.

Milk is about trying again and again and again. And you may die trying. But damn, you tried. Also, not everybody loves an underdog.

Now onto The Reader.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A blip

Sitemeter showed a jump in readership to this blog yesterday.
It was because of people searching for "never let me go the island". Which led them to an entry I made way back in 2005.

Apparently Mark Romanek (love his music videos) is directing Alex Garland's adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. Stars Keira Knightley. So, non of the female actresses I thought would have been great for the "movie" version of the book made it.

Ah well...