Friday, May 27, 2016

In an ambiguous world, can Singapore cope?

Bilahari Kausikan

May 27 2016

Ambassador-at-large Bilahari Kausikan, the Institute of Policy Studies' 2015/16 S R Nathan Fellow for the Study of Singapore, addresses this question in his fifth and final lecture. Below is an edited excerpt of his speech which he delivered on Wednesday.

Small states are vulnerable. The margin for error is narrow. The government's role is essential. Thanks to what was achieved over the last 50 years, the threat is no longer that we will disappear as a sovereign and independent country, although that can never be entirely discounted. The threat is now more insidious. The danger is that our autonomy could be compromised even though we remain formally independent and sovereign. We will still have a flag and a seat in the United Nations. No one will stop us from singing Majulah Singapura. But if we are clumsy in our external relationships or mishandle our domestic politics, the freedom to decide our own destiny could be severely circumscribed. That is in fact the condition of many small states who are members of the UN.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

With Beijing's growing influence, will Chinese replace English as facts on the ground change?

Han Fook Kwang
Editor At Large

MAY 8, 2016

Beijing's growing influence is sure to impact S'pore in days to come and it may even change the complexion of society

If you have been following the brewing dispute in the South China Sea, you might have come across the intriguing term "facts on the ground".

I didn't know such a concept existed, until recently.

Then, it hit me that facts on the ground is one of those irresistible ideas that can change the world, for better or worse.

And I am not just referring to the South China Sea.

But you need first to know what those four words mean.

Armed With Data, Chicago Police Try to Predict Who May Shoot or Be Shot

[This is "Minority Report" but without "Pre-Cogs" or psychics or predictions of murder. It cannot predict crimes, only the probability of a person perpetrating or being a victim of a crime. Of course, civil liberty organisations are concerned that this is just another disguised profiling or racism.] 


The New York Times
MAY 23, 2016

CHICAGO — In this city’s urgent push to rein in gun and gang violence, the Police Department is keeping a list. Derived from a computer algorithm that assigns scores based on arrests, shootings, affiliations with gang members and other variables, the list aims to predict who is most likely soon to be shot or to shoot someone. Shaquon Thomas was on it.

His first arrest came at 13, and others quickly followed, his face maturing in a progression of mug shots. By 18, Mr. Thomas, who was known as the rapper Young Pappy, was wounded in a shooting, the police say. Then last May, Mr. Thomas, 19, was fatally shot in what the police say was a running gang feud. His score was more than 500, putting him near the top of the Chicago Police Department’s list.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Remembrance of Booms Past

Paul Krugman

MAY 23, 2016

If Hillary Clinton wins in November, Bill Clinton will occupy a doubly unique role in U.S. political history — not just as the first First Husband, but also as the first First Spouse who used to be president. Obviously he won’t spend his time baking cookies. So what will he do?

Last week Mrs. Clinton stirred up a flurry of comments by suggesting that Mr. Clinton would be “in charge of revitalizing the economy.” You can see why she might want to say that, since people still remember the good times that prevailed when he was in office. How his role might be defined in practice is much less clear.

But never mind. What I want to do right now is talk about the lessons the Clinton I boom actually holds for a potential Clinton II administration.

First of all, it really was a very impressive boom, and in a way it’s odd that Democrats don’t talk about it more. After all, Republicans constantly invoke the miracles of Saint Reagan to justify their faith in supply-side economics. Yet the Clinton-era expansion surpassed the Reagan economy in every dimension. Mr. Clinton not only presided over more job creation and faster economic growth, his time in office was also marked by something notably lacking in the Reagan era: a significant rise in the real wages of ordinary workers.

But why was the Clinton economy so good? It wasn’t because Mr. Clinton had a magic touch, although he did do a good job of responding to crises. Mostly, he had the good luck to hold office when good things were happening for reasons unrelated to politics.

Positive News - 23 May 2016

News of Hope and Love, Monday 23 May 2016

These were the "Good" News of love and hope from Facebook

1) Sad news. In Sabah, a 15-yr-old girl died while trying to save her grandmother from a fire.
"The charred remains of Nurul Farhana Zulkifli, 15, was found in an embrace with her 86-year-old grandmother, Tiah Awang near the main door."
Selfless love.

2) In Singapore, an ex-drug addict gave his girlfriend the gift of one of his kidney. They will be getting married soon. She had been on the waiting list for a kidney for 10 years after an autoimmune disease cause hers to fail.
"I figured that even if my health fails after that, better to have two of us around for that short span of time than me having two kidneys yet end up losing her,"
Maybe you don't believe in "True Love". But the path of this "love" did not run smooth. The couple are 47 years old. Not old, but certainly no spring chickens. But their story is inspiring and heartwarming. "May they be so completely One."

3) Construction worker (FW) publishes book of poetry.
struck by the "universality" of Mr Mukul's thoughts on loneliness, missing home and being invisible in a different land. "I am reminded of some Singapore pioneers who came from China and built a new Singapore, yet never lost their culture and love for the country of their birth and the memories there."

4) Sisters' Island Marine Park
The 40ha Sisters' Islands Marine Park... supports corals, anemones, seahorses, fish and other marine life.
With the help of a $500,000 donation from HSBC, a turtle hatchery will be set up on Small Sister's Island by the end of next year.

The War on Diabetes - Part 1

[I've titled this "Part 1" because any war on anything (drugs, terror, etc) will take time. So I see this declaration of "war" on diabetes already a implied surrender that this war will not be won.

And as in all war the first casualty is truth. 

The comments on the various articles on this War on Diabetes was immediately inundated with "testimonials" (spam) on how the mainstream healthcare with its drugs were ineffective. 

And of course hints of secrets and lies Big Pharma and Big Medicine were keeping from you or telling you or manipulating you.

And of course your true salvation/redemption/healing will come from some obscure (or not so obscure website telling you how you can be free of diabetes.

So if you have diabetes, follow your doctor's advice. Not some quack on the internet. Your doctor studied a long time to be a doctor, and he is supported by a lot of medical knowledge and research. The quack on the internet has years and years of paranoia, suspicion, and a lack of trust in the establishment to back his assertions. 

Of course, it is precisely because of his anti-establishment attitude that draws followers. 

But... if there are a million people (or more) following him, doesn't that make him, an establishment then?

Anyway, whatever you believe or want to believe, here are the news articles.]

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Gluten-free diet - Fads without facts.

Two articles on the question of gluten in diet. Who should avoid it and is it healthier to avoid if even if you are not sensitive to it. 

Gluten - not a problem until you make it your first world problem, because, hey, you need to feel like a victim too... or something. I'm not a psychologist. So I don't know what's your problem. But I do know that if you do not have celiac disease, gluten is not one of your problems.