Monday, 2 April 2018

The Minister and the Historian

A FB comment on the face-off between the Minister and the Historian at the Select Committee's Public Hearing on Deliberate Online Falsehood.

Edited for clarity/streamlining links.

An academic making a controversial claim is a means of advancing his credentials, an example of his ability to look at facts uniquely, or being able to break away from "established thought" or bring a fresh perspective to well-worn paths. There is nothing wrong in any of that.

In the realm of academia.

A politician making a controversial claim is (usually) a means of distinguishing his position from others, to offer an alternative to the establishment, and to bring a fresh approach, and fresh solutions to intransigent issues or problems. There is nothing wrong with that.

Sometimes, it even works.

But most of the time it is grandstanding.

As H. L Mencken (sort of) said, "For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."

Friday, 30 March 2018

Select News on the Fake Committee

There is a Select Committee on Deliberate Online Falsehoods having public hearings. They invited Human Rights Watch to present their views (and be subjected to questions), and HRW (wisely or coward) declined. ("We only Human Rights WATCH lah! Where we say we Human Rights DO?")

Professor Cherian George dropped by, and spoke about how our current laws have been "weaponised" by those who would be (or feint being) insulted by comments on their race or religion. And caution against setting the bar too low or defining the problem too loosely.

And Reporters Without Borders found that the border around SG was too hard to ignore. The reason given was that there was no specifics to study (there is no draft bill, no definition of "deliberate online falsehood", or "fake news". So they reserved comments until there is something concrete to comment on.)

That is a very prudent position to take. "Fake news" needs definition. Cherian George's comments (and warning) on the matter are very appropriate. 

The problem is, from official (governmental) condemnation and rebuttal of alternative views, the govt's definition of "fake news" varies from factual inaccuracies and outright lies, to controversial opinion, informed or otherwise.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Religions - Radical Christians, Radical Muslims. Doing the Impossible

Ricemedia published an online article about Kingdom Invasion Conference 2018. This is a Christian Conference organised by Cornerstone Community Church, and attended by about 2000 people. Here's an excerpt from that article:
I’m at Kingdom Invasion, a mass evangelism conference that is in its sixth year running. On its website, the event is described as a platform to activate believers and churches to “take up the Lord’s mandate” to “bring the Kingdom of God into our world”. The conference also “acts as a catalyst for the prophetic destiny of the nations around Singapore”, fulfilling the prophecy of prominent American evangelist Billy Graham that Singapore would become the “Antioch of Asia” – the theme of this year’s conference.
The speaker implied that there is an urgency to curb "Muslim/Islam" during his sermon.

The Ricemedia article author asked MHA/Police how the speaker was allowed in.
The Ministry of Home Affairs and police did not respond to my queries on why Engle was granted a permit to speak in Singapore, given his notorious background. They also did not clarify what the rules for speaking at religious events were.
As a result, the Police and MHA are now investigating.

Monday, 26 February 2018

Graveyard of Bikes Problem.

Related image
Hangzhou's bike "graveyard".
Tens of thousands of shared bikes parked on an empty field in Hangzhou City, capital of East China’s Zhejiang Province, June 26, 2017. Hangzhou authorities have temporarily suspended the use of more than 20,000 shared bikes found in violation of traffic rules, including improper parking. Companies that own the bikes have not been active in getting them back. (Photo/VCG)

Firstly, what is the problem? Users are not parking the bikes properly? What is "properly" when there is no space? What is properly when all lots have been taken up or all the space in the yellow box is filled up? Want the Bike Sharing Companies to build docking stations? For how many bikes? Say they build 20 at a location, but 40 bikes come and need space to park. Or they build 10 docks and there are NO bikes there, but the docks continue to take up space even when empty. The problem is that there are TOO MANY so-called SHARED BIKES.

Why? Because the manufacturers of these bikes are making money making and selling bikes to Bike Sharing Co. Ironically, I saw this on one of the shared bikes: "Consume less. Share more."

Except "bike sharing" ISN'T sharing. It's renting.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Unthinking in the internet age

There was this news article about a Malaysia actor who posted a photo of his 12-year-old daughter on Instagram. Then, he got emails with marriage proposals for his daughter.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Patriots Act

You may have heard that Singaporeans rated Singapore the 31st most exciting city out of 32 cities.

But there's another survey by YouGov on 19 countries and the views of people in the countries in Oct 2016.

One of the question was how patriotic the respondents felt. Or rather they were asked if they thought that their country was the best in the world.

The country with the most people answering patriotically is... (drumroll)...


41% of the over 1000 respondents said that "My country is the Best Country in the World".

Another 32% responded that "My country is better than most other".