Sunday, January 27, 2008

Studying or working overseas

If there is a chance, one should travel overseas to study overseas.

When one lives in a place for more than 15 years, one really needs overseas or out of town experience to widen the horizon. After all, living in the same place for 15 years will cause one to settle and find it hard to move to other places. Hence, disturbing that peacefulness will open one's eyes that there are many more things in the world than the town one lives in.

Only by living in overseas for sometime, one will understand the harshness of world. When one have to live and tend the house by oneself, when one have to learn how to cook to survive better, when one see that other places might not be the same as one thought, one will wake up to the reality that life is not so easy after all and there are much more than just the town one is born at.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Infrastructure and Indonesia

Suharto's time was marked by high economic growth and stable food price. Infrastructure construction was quite on fire as well. Hence, it's not a big wonder that the poor in Indonesia is relishing the "good old time". After all, at the "good old time", they have higher chance to buying rice with their little money.

Yet, not many people realize that Suharto's growth is not realistic. The infrastructure is built with such a low quality that the entire country is feeling the brunt of it now. What else can cause the many planes to fail and cause many deaths besides poor maintenance? What is the cause of poor maintenance? It could be the corruption that prevents the money from being used properly, it could be the mentality of the engineer who was pushed to cut cost, etc. All those reasons are only built over time! It all started in the time of Suharto. When more infrastructure, the growth will grind to halt or even going negative. Years are needed to change the mentality and fix the infrastructure. In fact, Suharto might have destroyed Indonesia's chance of growth.

Road works and river's pollution issues as well. China is having the same problem now although it seems that their infrastructure seems like in a better state than in Indonesia.

Pushing for growth without building proper infrastructure is suicidal. Long term thoughts are needed.

Celebrate life ala aunties

Dang, I keep wondering why I am quite a tense person while some aunties (read. Old ladies, 40s-50s) dare enough to bare their "cleavages", paint their fingers with multiple glittering nail paint, paint their hairs with multiple colours, use high boots, and revealing clothes.

Those ladies look too unique for me. I prefer to face the other way to prevent my eyes from staring with too much curiosity.

Ladies who rule the world (continued)

This morning I met another of the "lady who rule the world".

I was in the train reading newspaper while standing. The moment the guy sitting in front of me stand up to move to my right, the "lady who rule the world" who stood at my left walk to the seat left by that guy. In less than 2 second that the guy's buttock left the seat, the seat is occupied by the lady. After she sat, she looked at her surrounding with the kind of face that said "I win!!!". :-)

I wonder why all of those type of people are ladies. Maybe some coincidence.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Flat price in Singapore

The government apartment price in Singapore is going haywire. A 5-room flat can easily fetch cash-over-valuation (COV) from 40k to 150k. It's crazy! The COV really inflates the amount of cash you need to fork out to get a place to stay. No wonder some people force themselves to get condominium. With condominium, despites 20-50% higher price, there is no COV. Hence, you only need 10% of the unit's valuation.

Well, the higher price of condominium means higher installment though. Pick and choose then.

Ladies who rule the world

Sometimes during my trip at the public place, I'd meet a special class of Singapore citizen. I call them "Ladies who rule the world".

When you are queuing for a bus in the interchange, you either wait nicely in the cordoned area or you wait outside the area. Normally, when you choose wait outside the area, you are expected to embark the bus after the people who are in the cordoned area finish embarking. It's a simple matter of courtesy. After all, we have chosen to wait outside the designated are for being lazy to enter into the maze (you should know what I mean if you have been to Singapore bus interchange). However, once in a while, you'd meed ladies (aunties actually) who queue outside the designated/ cordoned area and still cut the queue and embark at the midst of the more "rightful" people. While they are embarking, they tend to make a rather ugly face as if saying to the world that they have the right to do that for what-not reasons nobody but themselves know. Hence, I call them "Ladies who rule the world".

In another occasion, during a crowded MRT trip, you find some ladies who still insist on embarking the MRT/ train although the space could probably fill in only a 5 years ond kid. Yet, the ladies (aunties more likely but then again, which women bravely call themselves aunties) strongly push themselves in and after getting people into more squeezy moment, they simply utter a half hearted apology and start complaining about the MRT to other people they have just squeezed. Hence, I call them "Ladies who rule the world".

Maybe you know other cases? We should tell the story of this unique class of citizen. They colour the boring journey.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Google - made in singapore?

Yesterday, newspaper reports A*STAR (the research agency in Singapore) announcing a competition for a new search engine said to be more powerful than Google. Basically the agency is trying to get people produce a search engine that can search the content of audio and images. The prize of the competition is............. a measly US$100,000.00.

That's one of the funniest joke that I have ever read this month!

Come on, A*STAR, if one can come out with the search engine, why should they submit to the competition? Even Google would be willing to pay hundred of times perhaps larger than the reward prize. Not that Google is not trying. It was reported in the same article that researchers are not making much progress in that area and Google themselves is spending millions of dollars for R&D a year. Who is the one in A*STAR thinking that US$100,000.00 and a visit to its new facility can entice people to come out with the breakthrough? Strange people....

If I were the one with the technology (as if I can), I'd perhaps start my own search engine, beat Google to pulp and I am sure I'd earn billions in a short time. US$100,000 and get A*STAR to own the product after the competition? Dream on...........

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Pumpkin Scissors

Hey, for those of you who is losing hope in the world, watch Pumpkin Scissors. :)

It's an amazing stories (sad, but funny yet a bloody one) on what will happen in the end of a war. It tells of a sotry about Alice L. Malvin, a young lady who never loses hope and always fight for the hope. She keeps fighting for the better future. It's heartening. It also teaches about a super soldier who has chosen to fight with the young lady, a fight to change the future. For it is said in the animation that you are able to choose who you want to be. What's you want to be is not determined by your past.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Bus and MRT in Singapore

Morning and afternoon, the following buses are always as crowded as sardine (this list is just from my own very limited experience):

Besides that, the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) are ever sardine like every single morning (people going to work) and afternoon (people leaving for home).

I'd like to applaud SBS and SMRT for making the company such a profitable one.

Amazingly, all the complains that customers fielded to the two companies produce zero change. The MRT still arrives at 2 min and 4 min frequency instead of 3 min. Sometimes, it even reaches 6 min waiting time. It simply amazes me that they can't make it more frequent considering that MRT plies the fix amount of stop. Well, it HAS to stop at all stops. It has to close and open at the fix time. Yet, they can't make it more frequent. And o yeah, I am not sure that the MRT is actually designed to take THAT many people. I don't find the label on passenger limit anyway.

The SBS bus 179 and 199 have always been amazingly packed by students every morning and afternoon. Complaints over the last 8 years at least, have fallen on deaf ears. Bus 92 as well. Amazing things about bus 92 is that the buses often comes 2 at a time and yet it's freakingly full. After that, the waiting time is agonizing. Why can't they just increase the frequency of the bus?

Well, I guess the classic comment for the reason of not increasing bus frequency will always be "not enough vehicles" and "cost is high". Wow, I don't believe that they haven't save enough money by making passengers packed by sardine, and keeping cockroaches infested buses. Where does all the money go? Maybe the money goes into revamping the station to make space for rental shops where they can earn more money. Sadly, I am not sure that the venture is successful. If Dobby Exchange is to be an example, the foray is a losing money method.

Another thing, if you are the passenger of a bus, I urge you to take a look at the plate on top of the old bus ticketing machine, usually at the side panel behind the bus driver. Take note of the number of passengers limit. Now, when you are in a sardine packed bus, go count the number of passengers. You'll understand what I mean. Seems like bus companies are immune to law, at least in Singapore. Well, after all, passenger limit is not imposed, and cockroaches infested buses are okay.

GM crops

Some Genetically Modified (GM) crops apparently has shown up in the market shelves of many countries. Despite the many controversies of its use, for true reasons unknown to many, government approve the use of GM crops. Well, some governments do declare that GM crops have to be labeled as GM food when they reach the shelves. Yet, the full impact of GM crops to human body and environment are yet known.

First of all, GM crops introduced to plantation will interbreed with other wildtype version. Hence, after some time, plant researchers will definitely have their hard time in finding the real wildtype crops. Unwittingly, by allowing the GM crops, government has turned all variants of the particular approved crop to be GM. Why is it so? Because when the GM crop interbreed with other variant, it will definitely pass some of its gene to the descendants. Noone ever control what's being passed to the descendants. Hence, some time, ALL variants wil contain parts of the GM and hence, in a few years time, ALL of the crops' variants should actually be labelled GM, shouldn't they?

Secondly, noone should at this point claim they understand the function entire genome of the GM crops and I honestly think noone will do that. If you insert some DNA into a cell, DNA unknown to the cell, the cell might or might not take it. Well, in the case of GM crops, the plant take it and then incorporate it into its own gene. Have anyone ever declare they know what'll happen to other genes when a new gene is inserted? Well, as far as I know, noone yet declare they know. Hence, it's quite clear that noone actually know for sure what the GM crops have fully in store. Maybe by interbreeding the GM crops with wild types for years to ensure that the traits are being passed down to the descendants and stable, we can be at least 1% sure that the plant accept the new traits. Again, maybe that by doing such, we can be sure that the crops pass some selection. Alas, noone will know for sure.

Lastly, the long term effect of the GM crops is not yet known. There is even a notion that the government is unwittingly (or maybe wittingly) allowing the GM crops producers to use the entire population as the guinea pig of GM products. After all, no company will be crazy enough to do a 20-30 years trial on their product officially before they pass it to the market. Now, you be the judge whether you'd want to eat GM food or not. For me, if I ever read the label and know for sure that's GM food, I'd avoid it.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Consumer Price Index

Governments around the world always use inflation to note their ability to control the economy. They always point to the low inflation figure to say that their people are better off.

I have my huge doubt in consumer price index which are widely used to report on inflation. For example, in Singapore, the real-life fact indicates that there is at least 20% increase in wheat price, some percentage increases of prices of various products in the supermarket. Even the noodles and rices in hawker centre are provided with less portion or have increased by 20% or more. Yet, the government here reports a great number of inflation, at a mere 4% or around that. To add salt to the wound, the 4% inflation is said to be lower than the 5% average salary increment. Wow, many people were expected to say. Anyway, a simple calculation shows 1% betterment!! O really?!?! What about if the fact on the ground actually shows that people need to spend 10% more each month? Does it bother the government? Nay, I don't think so. Government in Indonesia and Singapore at least, seems to be attentive at their good inflation rate.

Another big challenge with Singapore's statistics is in the employment figure. I have met a number of jobless folks and it was always reported in the paper that more jobs are created. Now, for a crude example, if the jobs are created for people with ability A and there are numerous ability B who can't simply turn to ability A, does it mean that the economy is better? Well, the government says yes since there are lots more jobs than the applicants despite the hard fact that A LOT of people are jobless. Funny heh? I don't understand why it's so difficult for government officials to go down to the real field and feels for themselves the hard fact. Have they become so deluded?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Keyring - amazing invention

Did it ever come to your thoughts that keyring is such a simple yet useful innovation? It's simply based on a spring mechanism where 2 coils of ring is held together in a default compressed state. When force is applied to input key into the spring's coil, the spring expands and we can loop the key into the coil. Hence, when the key pass through the mid portion of the entire spring coil where the end and head of coil meet, the key is exactly in the "middle" of the spring and held together by circle, which is the spring in compressed state once again.

A simple mechanism invented in a time so long that no one remember who and when it took place. Yet we have been using the same principle up to now without notable modification to the design. /salut