10 November 2007

I had dinner with Kelvin at Fig & Olive at Vivocity last night. I had a Beef Kebab sandwich and Kelvin had the corn beef sandwich. My sandwich was remarkably unremarkable, likewise the chicken soup. Water was charged too and they came in tiny mineral water bottles.

I doubt if I would ever return to this place again.

09 November 2007

My Canon iP3300 Pixma printer is an infernal piece of crap. Now, there is a sheet of paper jammed! Feed problems! First, oil tank recognition problems, then, front feeder and top feeder recognition problems. Absolutely not recommended. Avoid!

The older and cheaper Lexmark Z-25 and Z-35 printers were way way more reliable. This Canon contraption is over-engineered.
It's Friday! Whee! I'm going to meet up with Kelvin for dinner at Vivocity this evening. I wonder if Amelia is going to be around town this weekend. I want to pass her some VCDs. I need to pass Wei Yi some Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 books too.

I don't think I can make it to Sim Lim Square this weekend after all. I do need a new keyboard and a 8-port switch. Heh.
The Singaporean Army and Society: Perspectives from Major Robert E. Lee Jr., Green Berets, US Army

This was an interesting perspective offered by a major in the Green Berets. It was, of course, at odds with what the bitter, navel-gazing opposition in Singapore had to say.

Needless to say, it had offered an outsider's perspective.

"Major Lee had conducted training missions all over Asia: South Korea, Singapore, Tonga, the Solomon Islands, the Philippines... He judged cultures and political systems by what he saw of their armies, which wasn't a bad idea. At least it was ground truth rather than abstractions. Armies are usually accurate cultural barometers. America had among the best non-commissioned officer corps in history because the U.S. was the epitome of a mass middle-class society. Poorly led corrupt third world countries tend to have militaries in which weapons and other equipment were not maintained. Maintenance - a dull, unpleasant, and yet necessary task - is an indication of discipline, espirit de corps, and faith in the future, because you maintain only what you plan to use for the long term.
Lee, barely audible above the loud typhoon rain, spoke of each Asian army he had helped train, with the memory of it lingering in his eyes. He was most impressed with Singapore's. "They had a state-of-the-art shoot house. Whenever a soldier got hurt in training, there was an investigation and a detailed explanation given to the family. Life wasn't cheap there. It was valued. Officially, Singapore's a dictatorship, and people in Washington and New York disparage it. Unofficially, it's a civil society.

"Their non-commissioned officer corps is real good," he went on. "Singapore's a meritocracy; lots of future officers are identified out of the ranks in basic training. Chinese, Malays, Indians, they're all mixed together in units. I went there with the idea of Big Brother. But you just cross the border into Malaysia or especially Indonesia from Singapore, and you'll see hordes of beggars and people defecating in the streets and you'll realise why Singapore has those strict rules. You can walk into a movie theatre in Singapore without your feet sticking to the floor. Going into Malaysia and Indonesia puts things into perspective for me. After those countries, the Big Brotherisms don't bother you much. Anyway, the people in Singapore get around the rules. It's not as bad as people write about. You just have to be there."

Quote from "Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond" by Robert D. Kaplan

08 November 2007

I just got back from a run at the Botanic Gardens. The place was parked! The car parks were full.
Asian Militaries: From the perspective of a U.S. Special Forces sergeant

An interesting perspective of the capabilities of the Singapore fighting men as well as other Asian militaries from the perspective of a special forces sergeant who had trained with all of them.

"I liked this Special Forces sergeant from California's San Joaquin Valley. He missed no detail. He had served all over Asia, and had taken time off from military service to work as a bounty hunter back in the U.S. I asked him his assessment of the Philippine military.
"Weak noncoms, badly trained, underpaid," he huffed. "They steal bullets to feed their families. The Thai army is better, and the Koreans and Singaporeans are just plain damn good soldiers. Even with their booze, I found Mongolian troops are superior to the Fils. The Fils are like the Panamanians I've worked with. They need basics, not NODs."

Quote from "Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond" Robert D. Kaplan

05 November 2007


Over the weekend, I picked up quite a few volumes at Borders:

  • The City in History - Lewis Mumford

  • 1814: The Campaign for France - F. G. Hourtoulle

  • Flesh and Machines: How Robots will change us - Rodney A. Brooks

  • The City Reader - Edited byRichard T. LeGates and Frederic Scott

  • Send a Gunboat: The Victorian Navy and Supremacy at Sea 1854-1904 - Antony Preston and John Major

  • Japanese Fortified Temples and Monasteries AD 710-1602 - Stephen Turnbull and Peter Dennis

  • Blackwater: The Rise of the World's most powerful Mercenary Army - Jeremy Scahill

  • Imperial Grunts: On the Ground with the American Military, from Mongolia to the Philippines to Iraq and Beyond - Robert D. Kaplan

  • The Best American Science Writing 2007 (Best American Science Writing) - Gina Kolata and Jesse Cohen

  • The Best American Science & Nature Writing 2005 (Best American) - Jonathan Weiner and Tim Folger

  • The Best of Technology Writing 2007 (Best of Technology Writing) - Steven Levy

Monday afternoon. How time flies.

04 November 2007

I swam twenty laps at the pool this morning. Phew. Not much sun. I did get darker though despite the application of sunblock with a spf of 30+.