Thursday, 26 December 2019

Evidence of DunningKruger in Trump

Interestingly, there are Trumpeteers in Singapore - supporters of Donald Trump, who believes his talking points, who believes he is the best thing to happen to the US, and who is being persecuted by the Liberals and the Deep State.

There are over 3 years of evidence that he is not.

And over 15,000 of his lies have been documented and debunked (as at 16 Dec 2019, according to Washington Post, who is tracking the number of lies he has told. Update: Link to archived WaPo page provided by commenter. Thanks Mich.).

Here is just one example of Trumpslaining and the DunningKruger Effect:



Wednesday, 18 December 2019

OK Bumi

Two instances of Dr Mahathir making the news. By talking.

From 14 Dec on whether he would stay beyond 2020:

Malaysian PM Mahathir again hints he could stay on beyond 2020

14 Dec 2019 
DOHA: Malaysia's 94-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad again raised the prospect on Saturday (Dec 14) that he could stay in office beyond 2020, declining to give a definitive pledge to step down.
Mahathir returned to power last year after dealing a historic election defeat to the corruption-plagued coalition that he once led and which had been in power for six decades.

Thursday, 28 November 2019

Biculturalism in Singapore, or the Importance of being polylingual or polycultural

I just realised I have not posted in over 2 months!

Not that I have not blogged. I have. I just haven't published.

Because, reasons.

Anyway, here is something I have been working on, off and on for a while - the Importance of knowing a second language, or at least more than one language.

We start with a joke. (Actually, it's all jokes. Not good ones, though. You have been warned.)

1) Chicken. Goat. Bag.
 A Malaysian MP (or VIP) was kidnapped. The ransom was paid and the kidnappers allowed the MP to appear in a video to assure his family that he is alive and well. However, for some reason, the video had no sound, so the MP appeared in the video, and first carried a chicken. Then a goat. And then a bag.

When his family saw the video, they were overjoyed!

"He's coming back!"

Only Malaysians and Singaporeans may get this joke.

Monday, 23 September 2019

"I believe the Children are our Future"

That is of course, a truism.

And it is cute to see children stand up for their future.

And drive the "Youth Revolution" that includes saving the Earth from Climate Change.

Ever heard of the Children's Crusade?

And then there are the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting who became activists and lobbied for changes to gun control laws in the US.

Not to belittle their efforts - they made progress which had been impossible with the NRA and fanatical gun right lobbyists resisting change.

But... there are still mass shootings. Even as recent as August 2019.

Thursday, 12 September 2019

Singaporeans, the Hong Kong situation, and Taiwan's

On FaceBook, whenever there is a story on the Hong Kong protests, there will be Singaporeans commenting about the protests. Or riots as some may prefer.

And they are not very sympathetic.

Because they are not very empathetic.

And they are rather parochial Singaporeans, who sees things from a Singaporean perspective, and do not understand the HK situation:

Sunday, 1 September 2019

China - Boom or Bust?

The general consensus is that China's rise is inexorable. Inevitable.

And that the 21st Century would be China's Century.

And certainly, China's growth, development and emergence over the last 30 years or so makes the case for China's inevitable assumption of the dominant power and economy on the global stage, rather obvious.

In this first video, Kishore Mahbubani points out the obvious - China by sheer din of population just needs to achieve a per capita income of just 25% of the US, and it would be the number 1 economy, dwarfing the US (currently, as at Aug 2019, #1).



China's manifest destiny seems certain. Inevitable.

Monday, 19 August 2019

Coping with Climate Change in Singapore

[I began drafting this post some months ago, maybe even since late 2018 after the IPCC released its report of October 2018 for policy makers. What I got from the report and other commentaries on it, was that Climate Change was coming, all the talk and discussion about ameliorating or moderating the impact of climate change was just wishful and wistful thinking: Climate Change was happening, and NOTHING humans can do would avert it. Hoping SOMETHING we do MIGHT avert or just moderate the impact of climate change was wishful optimism not based on reality.

So, do we just roll over and die? 

Of course not. 

But what would Singapore need to do?

This was what this post was supposed to address. 

Monday, 12 August 2019

What's a China to do? (To intervene or not to intervene in HK?)

China's growth in the last 30 years have been spectacular, unprecedented, and unlikely to be repeated. If Singapore/Singaporeans can be proud of how we grew from Third World to First in one Generation, China can equally be proud that they lifted hundreds of millions (about 600m) of their citizens out of poverty in one generation.

Now they are the second largest economy (in terms of GDP) in the world. Second only to the US, which has about 1/4 of their population. Which means China's per capita GDP is not more than 1/4 of the US (closer to 1/5, IIRC).

AND... their economy is slowing.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

A "House" in Singapore?

I'm a fan of the TV series (ended), "House", which is about a genius doctor, Gregory House, who leads a team of diagnosticians to solve medical mysteries - basically patients who present with complicated, unusual, or non-responsive symptoms.

I am reminded of the show because of this news article by a doctor in private practice.

He diagnosed a rare illness, vasculitis in one of his patients.

Which is one of the rare diseases that House's team often come up with.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Future Economy - how to prepare for it?

[15 Feb 2017]

The Committee on the Future Economy released it's report. And the opposition parties immediately savaged it.

I don't blame them. The report was disappointing. Uninspiring. Insipid. Unreadable. And... what did SDP's Chee say?
“Long on rhetoric but woefully lacking in bold and aggressive measures to tackle the serious problems that confront Singapore”.
"Long on rhetoric" - that was what I was thinking too. About Chee's critique.

To be fair, I agree that the recommendations are disappointing. However, what is Chee suggesting or proposing "to tackle the problems that confront Singapore? This:
"He also said the political scene and mass media have to be freed up as the present situation stifles debate, creativity and the development of questioning minds."
And that is what I mean by "long on rhetoric" -- the usual cliched political "talking points" that comes from the opposition, with barely any attempt to hide their political agenda.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Alternative Energy

[Another draft from some time back. This post was began in 2015. And languished in my "Draft" folder for the last few years. I have some new thoughts on it.]

Every now and again, someone somewhere in sunny Singapore will ask, "why are we not using solar power? It's so freaking sunny here all year round!"

And some may even go as far as to ask if we can't harness other clean energy.

Here is the official position:

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Climate Change and the battle for your mind

Climate Change.

A.K.A. Global Warming.

Is it REAL?



This first video challenges "conventional, accepted wisdom" that there is scientific consensus that it is Anthopogenic Global Warming (AGW) - see from about 4 minutes into the video. And the "smoking gun" is that about 2/3 of the almost 12,000 scientific papers on climate change had no position on AGW. The "consensus" is based on those papers that had a position on AGW. And in those papers 97% of those papers backed AGW.

But is this science or politics or politically-motivated science?

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Singapore's Landfill Island

Pulau Semakau is Singapore's sole landfill. But it takes only... "processed" waste or refuse. And by "processed", I mean incinerated.

Singapore has land constraints. A problem Japan also shares. And not surprisingly, their solution is the one we also settled on.

And also Sweden's "Waste to Energy". Which they consider to be "recycling" because the rubbish is being "recycled" into energy.

[Note that the two links above on Japan and Sweden are from Australian TV and they may have a bias for recycling things... the conventional way. The host of the second link in his story on Sweden's waste management seemed more keen to critique incineration, and to equate the high temperature incineration with simple burning and his interview with Prof Goran Finnveden seemed to be for the purpose of drawing out a critique of "burning plastic". The video's host presented him as someone "who has studied waste-to-energy for many years". You can compare his profile with the claims of his experience. I am not saying he is not qualified or experienced, but I believe (and I may be wrong as I have NO Evidence) that the interview was tightly edited to present a sceptical view of incineration as "recycling" and as a true solution for Australia.]

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Thoughts on the US 4th of July Parade

Did you see this news?

With tanks and flyovers, Trump celebrates military in July 4 salute


05 July, 2019

WASHINGTON — With US fighter jets flying overhead, United States President Donald Trump praised the military and reveled in a show of pomp and patriotism on Thursday (July 4) in a celebration of Independence Day that critics accused him of turning into a political event...

Monday, 17 June 2019

Perspective from The Little Red Dot: the HK Protests 2019, and the future of Hong Kong

In June 2019, HK had a series of protest over the HK Govt's proposal to pass a law allowing people in HK to be extradited to China.

This is reminiscent of the 2014 Umbrella protests.

Here are two news reports (links may be broken after some time), which I have extracted just the first few lines which suggests that the protests are having some effect. I have also extracted a few additional lines from the second report which I feel makes a pertinent point.


Friday, 7 June 2019

Fig leaf and False Premises (and a false tsunami of hope? Or perhaps a tsunami of false hopes?)

[This was first drafted in Oct 2018, when some Singaporeans met Mahathir to invite him "take a leading role in promoting democracy and freedom of expression in South East Asia", by speaking at a yet unnamed "democracy conference" in 2019.

There were at least 5 players named in this fiasco, but leading the group are Thum Ping Tjin and Tan Wah Piow. In one new report, Dr Thum was reported to describe Malaysia as a “beacon of hope for democracy in Southeast Asia” and said he “expressed to Dr Mahathir the hope that many of us feel”.

Soaring words. Which made for some sore points with our Party in Power (PAP). 

They had responses along the usual reactionary lines. Not very... original.]

As usual PAP misses the point and the opportunity.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Judge, Jury, and Executioner

As I grow older, there are fewer and fewer things that I am sure of.

One thing I am still sure of is, I would not want to be a Judge.

Another thing I am sure of is, for fairness and impartiality, victims of crimes should not be meting out punishment for the crime.

But even as I become more circumspect and less judgemental, I see social media has... "empowered" others.

And has made judgments EASY for many others.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

How to resist Fake News

So Fake News is in the news recently. Because Singapore passed a law against Fake News.

Well, in this age of information and social media, fake news is everywhere. Even in YouTube:





Here's a summary, from 15:40 in the video (I'm paraphrasing) - 
all these videos take advantage of the flaw in the human heart: the desire to fight those you disagree with. These videos make you hate and then they earn money from your views.

Thursday, 28 March 2019

Is Singapore a Good Country?

Well, we're ranked 23rd.

What is a "Good Country"? Good for whom?

This TED talk video (from 2014) provides one suggestion from Simon Anholt


At 12:13, he summarises what he means: The "Goodest" Country is one that gives more to humanity than any other country.

A "Good Country" is good for humanity, and for the world. A "Good Country" is not selfish.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Regulators and the Regulated - Boeing and the FAA

In a previous post, I wrote this:
The other (hidden) cost of a well-paid public service
In the aftermath of the US sub-prime mortgage financial crisis, one critique of the US system was that the salaries for US civil servants were so low that the brilliant "A" students were looking for jobs in the banking sector after graduation while the merely competent "B" students were getting hired by the government to regulate the banking sector. And they would be totally outclassed by the "A" students who would come up with new instruments (such as derivatives, collateralised debt obligations, etc) that the "B" students could not understand, let alone regulate, which led to the sub-prime crisis. (This is the short, highly abridged, explanation of the crisis.)
 
Singapore has the opposite problem.
Singapore has pursued and sought "A" students (scholars) and brought them into the ranks of the civil service. This allows for forward planning, policy development and review, and competent regulation and administration of policies and services.
Certainly we need "A" students in the Singapore civil service to develop coherent policies and regulate the private sector, but the "A" students are also needed in the private sector. We can tell if there are not enough "A" scholar graduates in the civil service  - poor regulatory oversight, private sector running circles around the regulators, etc.
 
How do we know if there are too many "A" students in the civil service? How can we tell if there is not enough innovation in the private sector?
We are working with a finite pool of talent. Paying for talent in the civil service may prevent a lack of talent in the civil service, but there is no way to prevent an over accumulation of talent in the civil service. 
 
How do we know if there is not enough talent in the private sector? Maybe the lack of innovation and entrepreneurs is an indicator?
If all the "A" students are in the government coming up with regulations, and the "B" students are in the private sector trying to work within the regulations, and unable to come up with innovative ways to succeed in spite of the regulations, perhaps that is why we have so few entrepreneurs?

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Comment: TCM as part of SG's Healthcare

A TCM practitioner caused a man to have his leg amputated due to the treatment he applied (a heat lamp, which is NOT TCM, no?)

For that malpractice, he was fined $5000 and suspended for 3 years.

This was a comment on Facebook:
Practitioner caused patient to lose a leg - $5000 fineDoctor got duped by imposter into disclosing medical information - $50,000 fineDoctor did not warn patient of side effect of steroid injection, patient suffered more pain and inflammation but did not lose any limbs - $100,000 fine 
Wow this is mind-blowing!

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Water under the bridge? I wish.

Has Malaysia (as our Minister for Foreign Affairs puts it) "lost its right to review" the water agreement?

Minister Vivian B. rebutted Dr Mahathir's assertion that Singapore has gotten rich from buying water from Malaysia at an unreasonable price. I'm paraphrasing and I may not have captured the gist of Dr Mahathir's ramblings because he doesn't make sense and trying to make sense of it is a futile exploration of the meanderings of senility. This was what was reported:
Speaking at the Johor Government Retreat with the Federal Cabinet in Putrajaya on Thursday, Dr Mahathir said Singapore has grown rapidly because of Malaysia’s supply of water to the Republic.
Right. It was all because of Malaysia's magical water and ONLY because of Malaysia's magical waters. That is why Malaysia is such a developed country today!

Sunday, 24 February 2019

This is your brain on social media/news

As Dr House is wont to say, "everybody lies".

But some do it with statistics.

It therefore behooves us to read the news (and any thing really) critically.

Or else we might just get swept along by some "influencer".

And it's not even necessarily some sweaty ranty conspiracy theorist. It might even be mainstream media.




Sunday, 17 February 2019

A little bit of crystal ball gazing

What's going to happen next?

Well, Heng Swee Keat will be the next PM of Singapore.

And Tan Cheng Bock has announced that he is coming out of political retirement.

But that's all just the near future. And these are just small local details that will not change the BIG PICTURE.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Singapore and Switzerland - a comparison

[This post was first drafted in 2015. So the figures are a little outdated, but updating them may simply be redundant for the argument. At least I assume so. Feel free to prove me wrong.]

You may recall at one point our former PM Goh Chok Tong promised/claimed that Singapore will reach Swiss Standard of Living. I checked. He made the "prediction" in 1984 that we would reach Swiss 1984 Standard of living by 1999. We made in in 2000. Just off by a year.

But there are still... sceptics.

Who are able to provide anecdotal or cherry-picked data to make their point.

This is not a rebuttal of their point, or points. This is a presentation of... the wider picture.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

"We're not destroying the Earth..."

"... The Earth is Destroying us!"

A different perspective.


The video provides an interesting perspective.

In the long, no, SHORT history of humans on Earth, we were mostly in an Ice Age.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Lease Decay Solutions (HDB 99 year lease problem solved!)

The Lease Decay issue is the problem of HDB flat owners in flats built more than 40 years ago, and now face falling prices for their flats.

As the original lease on their flat is 99-years, after 40 years or more, there is less than 60 years of lease on the flat and with the short lease there are constraints on buyers to get mortgages and to use their CPF to pay for the flat.
First, at less than 35 years of lease left when banks are unwilling to extend loans to finance their purchase. That applies to flats that are at least 64 years old.
Second, at under 30 years' lease remaining when CPF money cannot be used for down payment or to service the monthly mortgage (flats that are 69 years old). And third, when leases go under 20 years (flats that are 79 years old).
"When leases drop to 20 years and below, the prospective buyers will not be able to get HDB loans, bank loans or use CPF for the purchase. Everything has to be paid in cash in one go," Mr Ku noted.
The amount of CPF money that can be used to finance the flat purchase is also lower for units with a remaining lease of at least 30 but under 60 years.
So that in a nutshell, is the lease decay issue. How does the government intend to solve it?

Here are some solutions. First, let's look at what the government has suggested (PM Lee at NDR 2018):

Saturday, 19 January 2019

Water woes and stupid ways to solve it.

[Note: This was first written in mid-2017, but by the time I was satisfied, it was no longer current - water price was not being discussed anymore. But now we are again providing Johor with extra water at their request. So this topic is current again.]

I should tell the story of my suggestion for eliminating smoking from our society.

Not to show how smart I am. But to remind myself (and to inform the reader) that I have made some stupid dumb uninformed suggestions as well.

But while I was naive once (and I might still be), I do pride myself on having learned my lesson from that episode. The point is, we all jump to dumb conclusions or make dumb suggestions. I recognise that and accept that as part of the human experience. The humbling human experience. Then you find people so enamoured with their (dumb) pet solution that they are are unable to see the greater truth.

I will tell the story of my suggestion to eliminate smoking and share the lessons learnt, one day. But the issue today is Water.

Friday, 18 January 2019

VERS vs SERS

The details for VERS has not been announced. They will announce it closer to its implementation. That is, in about 20 years time.

For SERS, flat owners will be given compensation for their flat, and given priority to choose a replacement flat if that is what they want. There is also something like a "moving and renovation grant".

We will keep this comparison simple and just focus on the compensation for the flat, and what that will costs the government for SERS, and project or speculate what it might be for VERS.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Responding to Malaysia's provocation with Furious Anger...

... or at least Vengeance.

This was a comment on FaceBook regarding Minister for Foreign Affairs reply to MPs who wanted to know what was Singapore's response to the continued and escalating provocation from Malaysia intruding into our waters and claiming it.
From Pulp Fiction:
"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of the darkness. For he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers."