A Cleverly Designed Device

THINKING BEFORE I SPEAK

Things I kind of keep to myself .02

I was pissed off today when I noticed that somebody had eaten all the food I bought. My mother said I should be shameful about that. Mothers are always right. I am indeed ashamed… Ashamed that she brought up two other kids who ate all the food I bought.

Okaay, that was just a little joke.

But there is some truth to it because here lies a greater issue. As I get older, I’m beginning to observe how my parents handle petty problems like the one above because they help you see how you became the person that you are. Sure, it is a tiny weeny problem. But tiny weeny problems lead to bigger ones and they tend to define us as we get older. Who you are depends on lessons that you learned when you were growing up. What did the “food ghosts” learn? Nothing! Should they be ashamed? Nope. Would I have handled the situation above like my mother? Definitely not. No, no no.

Once again, the “food ghosts” escape scot free, dwelling in this house as my folks stuff them with not just food, but more money than they need. And the few bad habits that they have pocketed during their growing up years? All for the keeping! Now that’s the way to bring up your kids! Well done!

Young rebel

It’s 4 in the morning but I can’t get to sleep.

There’s a question that is stuck in my head. A question a lot of people pose whenever they ask for my views on the White Paper.

I honestly find it difficult to explain just how superficial this question is.

I urge every ”Singaporean son” to actually read the White paper before asking me:

"So you don’t want foreign workers to come here, then who do that job? You do uh?"

"Singaporeans don’t want to make babies so foreigners come here to save the country, grow the economy, why complain? They are doing us a favour so why go against this?"

Most times, these questions leave me speechless and at this point they probably conclude that I fall under the category of the mindless, conforming, young rebel (What to do? I’m 22) because of my lack of ability to give them a satisfactory answer, without much consideration of the fact that the questions just aren’t worth wasting my breath on.

I feel terribly sorry that I am sometimes unable to articulate what goes through my mind after a disastrous question like the above is posed. Disastrous, I say it again because it destructs the mind, believe me when I say this and I apologise to anyone who has caught the subtle sign of my jaw dropping ever so slightly in response to their questions. I apologise if you have seen in my face the look of confusion as I wonder to myself "Excuse me, sorry, have you actually even read the White Paper? All *73 pages of it?"

See, my point is simple and the point is not about being for or against the White Paper, the point is about knowing your facts. It’s embarrassing to throw out mindless questions in a tone that exudes such confidence when instead the underlying message that is sent across to me basically reads : I don’t know anything, I didn’t read a single page of the White Paper, I’m just smoking my way through because you’re probably too young to understand what’s going on anyway. Besides, you’re probably one of those typical silly young punks with a silly vision of Singapore and a silly alternative view.

The thing is, I have read the White Paper; I love sharing my views if people were to ask, but please, don’t talk down to me in the manner posted above. We need to be rational. It’s just so embarrassing to talk like that, and it is quite sad actually.

To me, when one is against the White Paper, it does not necessarily mean that one is against foreigners coming to Singapore. I hope Singaporeans can get this right and I hope non-citizens here do not feel unwelcome just because of the shallow-minded nature of others who bind foreign workers and the White Paper so casually and superficially.

I would like to believe that the concerns on the ground regarding the White Paper go much deeper than that. It has little to do with the foreigners themselves but more to do with the actions of the decision makers. It’s about voices not being heard. It’s about planning scenarios jumping too rapidly every few years - 1991 Concept Plan was 4mil, 2011 Concept Plan was 5.5mil, 2013 White Paper 6.9mil.

It’s about a lost trust and the fear of going out of control.

And who’s to say we haven’t already?

*Excluding list of acronyms and acknowledgements

Singapore Learns Hard Lesson

By Jaya Prakash (Dated November 16, 2005)

SINGAPORE - Authorities have learned a hard lesson after Britain’s prestigious Warwick University snubbed the city-state with its decision not to accept an invitation to establish a campus. The decision was a blow to Singapore’s strategy to attract more foreign students and academics. It perhaps also is a temporary setback to efforts to transform the island into a knowledge-based economy. 

State planners have dreamed since the early 1990s of Singapore as a knowledge-based state where everything from arts to culture and science and technology would flourish. The government plans to double the number of international students to 150,000 by 2015 as part of a strategy to reduce its economic reliance on manufacturing. 

Warwick and the Australian University of New South Wales were the only two foreign universities selected by Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) to set up full-scale campuses, which would be able to grant undergraduate degrees. 

Other foreign universities, mostly American, have satellite campuses offering specialized, usually vocational, programs, or maintain affiliations with universities in Singapore but do not award degrees locally. The University of New South Wales, which will be the first foreign university opening in Singapore, will welcome 500 students in 2007. 

Meanwhile, many people are asking what went wrong with Warwick? That may be best answered by how Warwick’s supreme governing body - the senate - expressed its displeasure through its 48 members. It would appear the snub was all about the school’s lifestyle and reputation - in essence the “Warwick way of life”. 

The bottom line was that Warwick’s senate was concerned about academic freedom, Reuters news agency reported. “In the absence of a positive commitment from the academic community, [the council] resolves not to proceed with the plan for a second comprehensive campus of the University of Warwick, in Singapore,” the university said in a statement. 

Thio Li-ann, a Singapore law professor who drew up an advisory report for Warwick University, warned the school that “the government will intervene if academic reports cast a negative light on their policies”, Reuters reported. Singapore requires foreign educational institutions to abstain from interfering in its domestic affairs. 

Thus, it clearly came down to a clash of values. 

Where freedom flows 

According to reports carried in Britain’s Financial Times, the university had sought guarantees from Singapore on the protection of its students in such areas such as freedom of assembly, speech and media, as well as in religious practices. (Currently, Jehovah Witness adherents are kept on a short leash in Singapore, because of their opposition to compulsory national service.) 

That a university known for its research prowess had to seek such a guarantee as a first step meant it had fears that needed placating. Warwick was evidently not willing to risk setting up a campus without getting guarantees on academic freedom. 

As opposed to some other universities, Warwick’s expertise and reputation lie mainly in its social science programs, where a great deal of analysis and probing is required for its academics to present their papers. Endangering or taking that avenue away - ie curtailing aspects of the research process so as to cause its academics to fall into disfavor with authorities - may have been what worked against Singapore’s bid to attract the university.

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Things I kind of keep to myself

My friend has a tattoo that reads ‘HOPE & LOVE’. She did it so she will never forget about hope and love.

If I was her mom, I’d tell her what she did was very wrong and maybe bring her back to the shop she got it from and tell them to tattoo ‘laundry’ or ‘make my bed’ instead.

The ‘HOPE & LOVE’ tattoo is on her nape. I hope she doesn’t forget.

Designers usually kill ourselves

  • Him: So what prez did you get this christmas?
  • Me: I got a deadline.
  • Him: LOL. Cheers.
  • Me: Wrapped in fuzzy red cloth...
  • Him: Hahaha
  • Me: ...with a nice white ribbon on top...
  • Him: Aww
  • Me: ...shoved in my face.
  • Him: Ouch.
  • Me: And when you unwrap the gift with so much joy in your heart, the deadline springs up and whams you in the face!
  • Him: Hahahahaha
  • Me: I was thinking metaphorically but now I think we should literally do this! HAHAHAHA
  • Him: OH OH OH I got the springs, I know how it works.
  • Me: Let's do it! Deadline 25th Dec.

Culture/Lifestyle

And we so readily say yes to a Friday night meeting.

Can we for once lead by example? No, because we are too busy evaluating someone else.

Sad day…

Aurelius Coin

Here’s a continuation of the previous post which I will keep much shorter due to the straightforward nature of this coin compared to the previous.

Inscribed on the coin is:

M AVRELANTONI NVSPIVS AVG


I broke it down like this:

M AVREL ANTONINVS PIVS AVG


From here, we know this is Aurelius Antoninus:

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Pius Augustus

There are no inscriptions of his achievements as we saw in the Trajan coin possibly because of his notoriety as Emperor and one responsible for many deaths. He was later assassinated by “an officer of his personal bodyguard” according to wiki.

Trajan coin

Gift from a friend I received today.

It’s a fake ancient Roman coin which one can purchase in Italy. I was not able to find a proper, structural and descriptive interpretation of the inscription on the net except general abbreviations here and there that are in no way specific to the coin above and which on it’s own would make little sense. So, I decided to write one up.

First, inscribed on the coin is this:

IMP CAESNERVAETRAIANO AVGGER DACPM TRP COSVPP

It was initially difficult to read it the way it was meant to be read due to the kerning of the letters and copying this text to google will reap no desired results.

So I broke the text like this (which makes a lot more sense now):

IMP CAES NERVAE TRAIANO AVG GER DAC PM TRP COS V PP

It still wasn’t helpful in a google search box. But seeing that we now have ‘Traiano’, it makes reading this a whole lot easier knowing that the ruler on the coin is Trajan. Yes, I could not tell by his face.

Based on Trajan’s biography, we know who his ancestors are and his accomplishments as ruler:

Imperator Caesar Nervae Traiano Augustus Germanicus Dacicus Pontifex Maximvs Tribvnicia Potestas Consul V Pater Partriae

And based on the above, we know this would mean:

Emperor Caesar son of Nervae, Trajan Augustus, who defeated the Germans and Dacians. A Great Priest, Tribune of the people, Consul for the 5th time, and Father of the fatherland/country.

(The defeat of Parthians was not included yet I assume because that came only later in AD113. That would tell us roughly that the coin was made before that. Serving the 5th year of consulship would mean that it was made later than 103AD. Hence by my own deducement, the coin was made between AD103 and AD113. Unless there are legend mistakes and discounting the fact that this coin is fake to begin with, I think my deducement is correct.)

What an interesting study today. Any mistakes, if any, are all mine.


Embodied Truth

By Ravi Zacharias:

I heard a cute little story, growing up in India. It is the story of a little boy who had lots of pretty marbles. But he was constantly eyeing his sister’s bagful of candy.

One day he said to her, “If you give me all your candy, I’ll give you all of my marbles.”

She gave it much thought, and agreed to the trade. He took all her candy and went back to his room to get his marbles. But the more he admired them the more reluctant he became to give them all up. So he hid the best of them under his pillow and took the rest to her.

That night, she slept soundly, while he tossed and turned restlessly, unable to sleep and thinking, “I wonder if she gave me all the candy?”


The point: Is it really that we have not been given enough evidence? Or is this restlessness and doubt because of our own duplicity? The battle in our time is posed as one of the intellect, in the assertion that truth is unknowable. But that may be only a veneer for the real battle, that of the heart.

“Not aware that we had a project called tea break. No wonder there was so much whining. Deadline must have been pretty tight.”