19 July 2008

Pulau Saigon Bridge

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Sha Villa, Lloyd Road

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A stroll around town

After the recital, I was strolling around Raffles City. To my dismay, I found that Menotti had closed. Oh well. It was 10:15 pm and I wanted dinner. The Seah Street Deli was closed. Rocky Master's at Seah Street was closed.

I ended up with a horrid chicken wrap at McDonald's. I'm convinced that McDonald's is the worst fast food joint on this planet.

Speaking of horrid, despite Wilson's warnings, I tried Gloria Jean's time and time again. And every time I was there, I swore off their crap coffee, convinced that they serve the worse iced blended or non-blended coffee in town. I am giving up on this coffee joint. Even Starbucks isn't this bad.

I also noticed two fat prostitutes eating at McDonald's. There were three others deployed at the entrance of CHJIMES. After gobbling their McMeals, these two ladies of the night went to join their co-workers at CHJIMES. It was not surprising as the place was crawling with expatriates.

18 July 2008

Twenty Four Preludes

I was at the recital this evening where Lim Yan played Rachmaninov's twenty four preludes. I enjoyed myself.

Minor points to note:
  • The ushers had their walkie talkies on. The squelch function could be heard loud and clear in the recital studio. Unprofessional.
  • There were many kids. Many of the kids were fat. And the fat people stunk. One could smell them in the studio. I sat beside one.
  • The kids brought their backpacks and somehow, they had to zip up or zip open. Loud.

I don't play the piano or any instrument, I am not trained but I was familiar with Rachmaninov's preludes as I have heard it numerous times over the years. I can't judge it on its technical merits but I enjoyed tonight's performance. While Lim Yan is not Ashkenazy, but his fingers were deft.


Lim Yan played all twenty-four preludes from memory. IMPRESSIVE!
Whee! It's Friday!

Australian Buy-A-Degree Universities

Australian Buy-A-Degree Universities

This is adapted and expanded from something that I had posted in the forum of the Reach Singapore group on Facebook.

I seem to observe quite a few people purchasing degrees in third rate Australian universities over the last two decades. From what I preceive, this is a big outflow of funds. I think that the government is aware of this substantial drain of funds.

Secondly, some of those who had studied there after purchasing their degrees have migrated there because of their experiences of the slower pace and the quality of life there. A house with a lawn in the suburbs and two SUVs anyone? The American dream? This is, of course, an indirect factor which had increased the migration rate from Singapore over the years. We are losing people.

I think there should be provision to make it possible for these people to get a place in a university here. If one does not want to lower the standards of the current universities now, is it not possible for additional universities with lower entry requirements and costs to be set up in Singapore to cater for these people? Give them alternatives. That way, the new generation will stay.

17 July 2008

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

I just stepped out of the cinema two hours ago. I had gone to watch this new Nolan film with Siu Hean. 'The Dark Knight' is an impressive and heavy film of an anti-hero and the plotting easily tops 'Batman begins'. Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan have written and crafted the most absorbing and engaging of any Batman film yet. Faithful, yet retaining a dark vision that were lacking in the Burton and Schumacher movies, the Nolan's creation of a murderous Joker with his wilful slayings defines Batman and his opposite. The protagonist and the antagonist. The thesis and anti-thesis. Dualism. The viciousness, the orchestrated chaos (sounds contradictory eh?) and plotting were magnificient. Heath Ledger's performance was masterly and there were already calls for him to be nominated and given an Oscar. Bale, Oldman, Caine, Freeman were convincing. Perfect casting. 'You complete me'. What can I say?

How can Nolan maintain continuity and yet top this one? I cannot say. 8/10


Siu Hean thought that Nolan should win the Oscar for the screenplay. Ledger's performance was definitely made possible by the intense and dark script provided. He has a point.

Arjun MBT

Arjun MBT

When national ambitions and a nation's technological base don't correlate, the product is a chimera which is thirty-six years in the making like the Arjun Main Battle Tank (MBT), and the drama hasn't ended. First mooted in 1972 after the victorious Indo-Pakistani War, the Indian government's attempt at an indigenous tank after the licence production of the relatively simple Vickers MBT, known as the Vijayanta in Indian service, was the Arjun MBT, a 58-ton vehicle with a superficial resemblance in appearance to the Leopard II and Type 90.

The project, was, of course, to enable India, which had sought the status of a great power, to be self-sufficient in tank design and production, thus much of the development was indigenous. The Arjun is equipped with a rather unique and supposedly accurate rifled 120mm developed in India. Even then, the Arjun has to depend on a German engine and transmission from MTU and Renk as it lacked the technological base to design and produce a 1500 hp diesel engine. Not many nations have that capability then and now.

The development was plagued apparently by integration problems and more likely than not, shifting requirements. Thirty-six years. Technology had not stood still in the field of armoured warfare, tank design and development. The resultant vehicle, it will appear, is that of a Cold War warrior.

Over the years, the project lingered as problems plagued it and when India finally bought T-72 and T-90s MBTs from the CIS to replace the aging Centurions and Vijayanta, it was clear that the writing was on the wall for the Arjun.

At various points in its development, there was talk of the Arjun being cancelled but national pride would not allow it. There was also thoughts of salvaging the project by mounting the turret on top of a T-72 chassis but nothing had come of it.

Today, the announcement finally came, the production of the Arjun main battle tank will be capped at 124 vehicles. This political move comes as no surprise as it will assuage national pride and allow the defence establishment to bow out with a bit of pride intact. That will, supposedly, be the end of a long saga, production of the first tanks have started and the Arjun will be produced in batches. None has been fielded though.
After several decades, the Indian defence industry is still unable to design and develop a competitive MBT. The assembling of new batches of MBT will still be dependent on Russian diesels, parts and such. Billions down the drain, national pride notwithstanding.
The existence of Vijayanta, Centurions, Arjuns, T-72s and T-90s means having to stock 105mm, 120mm and 125mm rounds, surely, a substantive logistical issue if there is one.

Of meaninglessness, the sendings and an exercise in futility

Of meaninglessness, the sendings and an exercise in futility

Thinking back, I remember this tiresome person who has sent me a lot of links over the last decade or so. I think there must have been thousands. During that time when he was busy sending those links, I think I had at most visited ten percent of those URLs that he sent, maybe less. Those links that I visited were to sites of transient matters that had little substance and were mostly utterly forgettable. After a while, it became habitual for me to bin almost everything he sent. I suppose, he had thought that by sending these pointless links which he deemed cool in his little world, he was exhibiting a form of coolness, much like the numerous, forgettable mobile phones that he vulgarly sported over the years and was loudly exhibiting to everyone he knew. The desperation he was inadventently displaying reeked of his loserhood.

16 July 2008

Mohammed Sultan Road

Once, a rowdy place on weekends, today, Mohammed Sultan Road is a quiet place of restaurants. There are few pubs left.

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I went for a run just now. 7:58. I ran rather fast today. The glorious blue skies were filled golden clouds. A breathtaking sight.

I should really increase the distance of my runs. Heh.
Zero-rating food and books

I made a suggestion in the Reach Singapore group a week or two ago.

In the UK, certain items are zero-rated or exempted from VAT (Value-Added Tax, or GST in our parlance)

These items include food and books and more. Books, newspapers, magazines, talking books, printed music and maps VAT

Notice 701/10

Food for humans including meat, ready meals and cakes - but not food supplied for catering or hot take-aways, sweets including chocolate and other sweetened food, crisps, nuts and other savoury snacks, ice cream and cones, mineral water and other drinksVAT

Notice 701/14

In other words, Her Majesty's Government recognises that books are essentially for education and the uplifting of people. And HM government also recognises that food are essentials and in that sense, zero-rating food eases the burden of the people. Consumption like that of junk food, luxuries, snacks are taxed but basic staples are not. It sounds like a good idea to me. I hope the authorities will consider this aspect of the UK's implementation of the VAT.
Top religious figure charged with ten counts

Someone in a Facebook forum had thought that the arrest was the tip of the iceberg. It is entirely possible I suppose. It appears in the news today that Shi Ming Yi (real name: Goh Kah Heng), Buddhist abbot of many temples, is being charged with ten counts forgery, conspiracy and misuse of funds.

Quoting from a report in Channel News Asia:

"The monk faces four charges under the Penal Code involving two counts of alleged criminal breach of trust. He also faces one count of forgery for the purpose of cheating, and one count of abetment for allegedly falsifying accounts."

I would suppose the rumour-mongering mills out there are busy but a person is, of course, innocent until proven guilty. Having said that, I imagine that the commercial affairs department (CAD) must have a strong case to have brought this to court. The monk is a popular media figure.

15 July 2008

Head of Ren Ci Hospital arrested

Yet another big charity is in big trouble. This time, the head of Ren Ci Hospital has been arrested. Apparently, from what I have read in the papers, the charge against the holder of a Ph.D. from Mannin University is criminal breach of trust.

After the NKF and Youth Challenge scandal, I wonder how many more of these charities will the government unearth? I can't say that I am surprised by this turn of events.

On that note, I will like to know how much of each charity's donations actually go to the needy.

I remember that someone had wanted to donate toys to a children's charity, I will not say which one, but when he called, he was told that that charity had only wanted cash. What do you think?
Going Green

I just posted this on the Reach Singapore forum on Facebook:

I would like to know how viable it is for all new government buildings to adopt solar-power solutions. Likewise, consideration can be given to the conversion of government facilities to adopting solar power solutions. After all, the government are state entities and not profit-generating entities and they can afford to take a long term view for Singapore's sake.

Likewise, perhaps, a study can be launched to examine the provision of solar-powered solutions for future HDB blocks.

I understand that solar-power is economically unfeasible at present but I think a study can still be made to ascertain the viability. Perhaps, there are means. Cost reductions on a large scale. I think substantive large-scale solutions like solar power will make more of a difference and perhaps, make us partially energy-independent.