Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The NRA is losing its grip — on reality and on politicians

By Jennifer Rubin
The Washington Post

February 26 2018

National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre and spokeswoman Dana Loesch have in recent days helped pull back the curtain on the mind-set of the NRA. This is not a group that wants responsible gun ownership. (Do responsible people have a weapon of war designed purely to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible?) This is not a group that is focused on making cogent arguments about gun legislation. Instead, like President Trump and Fox News, the NRA now operates in the fever swamp of what used to be a conservative party. Now, it’s a cult based on the preservation of Trump, a cult that requires conspiracies, bizarre rhetoric and out-and-out lies to keep its members in a high-pitch frenzy.

LaPierre ranted at the Conservative Political Action Conference, “If they seize power, if these so-called European socialists take over the House and the Senate, and God forbid they get the White House again, our American freedoms could be lost and our country will be changed forever.” If someone were mumbling like that at a bar, the bartender would be obligated to cut off his drinks.

The NRA’s arguments no longer depend on or even include facts; they are tribal calls to signal that it’s time for the faithful to toss away rational debate. (What about all the people saved by guns?! Any cursory look at the facts would tell you that’s a horrible argument, but it’s part of the NRA playbook. It’s what the NRA crowd says because … socialists are out to get them?)

Monday, February 26, 2018

SMRT to raise starting salaries as it embarks on hiring spree

By Victor Loh

24 February, 2018

SINGAPORE — In a bid to retain and attract more manpower, transport operator SMRT announced on Saturday (Feb 24) it will be raising starting salaries and improving staff benefits, as it seeks to recruit 2,500 more employees over the next three to five years.

The starting monthly pay for fresh engineering graduates will increase by 10 per cent to S$3,800, under new terms and conditions that were discussed with the National Transport Workers’ Union (NTWU), in line with the land transport industry transformation map (ITM) unveiled earlier.

Selected staff who reach the retirement age of 62 will also be offered five-year term contracts until age 67, SMRT said in a statement.

Previously, retired workers with good performance and physically fit and healthy for their roles were re-employed on yearly contracts up to age 67.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

I thought my bully deserved an awful life. But then he had one.

I never thought I could feel empathy for the boy who tormented me in childhood.
By Geraldine DeRuiter 

February 22, 2018

Geraldine DeRuiter is the voice behind and the author of the memoir “All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft.”

As a child, I was an easy mark for playground torments: smart, insufferably rule-abiding, decidedly unpretty. The tormenter I remember most distinctly was not my first bully, nor my last, but his attacks would turn the others into footnotes.

He was in my class for years; his mom was my softball coach, driving me to and from practice when my single mother could not. In class photos his face is round and almost cherubic, but I remember it contorted in anger as he spat insults at me, telling me to shut the hell up, flailing his hands against his chest and moaning — an approximation of what he said I sounded like. We were seated next to each other in class, year after year, and when I finally complained about this arrangement, one of my teachers said that maybe I’d be “a good influence on him.”

My proximity to his mother did nothing to protect me. Sitting in the back of her van after my team lost a softball game, he snapped: “It smells in here. Close your legs.” Reflexively, I did as he instructed. When his mother climbed into the driver’s seat a few moments later, oblivious to what had happened, he was still doubled over with laughter. I was 10.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The struggle to conceive with frozen eggs

[So the plan is, extract your eggs while you are younger, freeze them, and when you are older, and your career is more established, and you are on firmer financial footing, you thaw the eggs, fertilise them, implant them, and bear them to full term pregnancy and give birth to your own child. This frees women from being chained to their biology and can have babies when they choose.]

Brigitte Adams became the poster child for freezing your eggs. But things didn’t quite work out how she imagined.

Story by Ariana Eunjung Cha

JANUARY 27, 2018


Brigitte Adams caused a sensation four years ago when she appeared on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek under the headline, “Freeze your eggs, Free your career.” She was single and blond, a Vassar graduate who spoke fluent Italian, and was working in tech marketing for a number of prestigious companies. Her story was one of empowerment, how a new fertility procedure was giving women more choices, as the magazine noted provocatively, “in the quest to have it all.”

Adams remembers feeling a wonderful sense of freedom after she froze her eggs in her late 30s, despite the $19,000 cost. Her plan was to work a few more years, find a great guy to marry and still have a house full of her own children.

Things didn’t turn out the way she hoped.

China’s irresistible rise

[For every article or three about how China's growth is unsustainable, and how an implosion/ correction/ recession/ retribution is imminent, there will be defenders explaining why all those fears and predictions of doom are wrong.

Of course, official defenders' (i.e. China's government) credibility are suspect simply because they are not independent. 

Non-official or opinions from those with no vested interest (at least none overtly detectable), are a little more credible.

Here is one, non-official defender.]

By Jim O’Neill

11 February, 2018

China’s recently released GDP data for 2017 confirm it: the country’s dramatic rise, with the concomitant increase in its global economic relevance, is not slowing down.

To be sure, there has been fresh media chatter about the reliability of Chinese data, owing to reports that some provinces have been overestimating their economic performance in recent years. But for all we know, other provinces may have been doing the opposite.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Residential projects in Johor - too ambitious?

The Iskandar region of Southern Johor has ben the subject of many ambitious plans. Maybe even grandiose plans. The plans include
"...a snow world theme park, an opera house, a hospital specializing in Chinese traditional medicine and a school."
One view is that there may be too many homes planned.

Leading to this question: