Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Free beer? Tomorrow? But it won't be shiok at all if you never get to taste it!

One free set lunch...
But check the date first!

Likewise, free beer tomorrow!
So what's the catch? You won't get it whether you get it or not...


Jokes aside, here's Garth Brook's awesome classic "If Tomorrow Never Comes":



Shiok -- the video!

The Singapore Tourism Board's latest marketing video uses the common Singlish expression Shiok. It received both bouquets and brickbats. I felt the video got it right when shiok was used to convey enjoyment of, say, food or sensations such as the example used of fish nibbling at one's feet at a "fish spa". But watching the Singapore skyline from the Marina Bay Sands' infinity pool? C'mon!

Anyway, watch it (and read a commentary) and decide...



Well, if nothing else, I learnt that shiok is derived from the Malay word "syok" which means "nice".

So, have a nice day!

Monday, April 29, 2013

What make us feel good about work?

Whether you manage people's work or are workers who report to supervisors, this Harvard Business Review article, "The two most important words", is definitely worth a careful read (it also appeared in TODAY, April 29, page 28). It makes one better understand why there are bosses and why there are bosses:


And I like how the importance of recognition and praise is driven home by way of this humorous excerpt:

I was also pointed to this TED.com video titled "What makes us feel good about our work?". The examples that behavioural economist Dan Ariely uses are fascinating!...



I think, for journalists, we enjoy our work especially when there's a fun element. The caption writer in this TODAY example does seem to be having fun!...

The Mark Lee caption reads: "Mark Lee looks like Batman villain Two Face had sex with an iridescent guppy and spawned an Ah Beng."

The Ann Kok caption reads: "Ann Kok's decolletage in netted Herve Leger is what fishermen would call a bountiful haul."

Finally, it helps if a journalist has a sharp eye. Spot the difference, below (haha, I've actually circled it)...


Straits Times

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Killer (the dog that's scared of thunder) goes to boot camp!

This panel from Sherman's Lagoon appeared in today's Sunday Times, else I would have use it yesterday to accompany the Schadenfreude item:


Don't call me Killer; I'm now Assassin!

Killer the Mini Schnauzer has been promoted -- to "Assassin"! Here he is at Rookie Assassin Training (RAT), deciding if he is brave enough to leap over obstacles in a single bound...

And his weapon of choice? Here it is...

Weapon training session 1: Sniff it first!

Weapon training session 2: Coming to grips, and success! First squeak drawn...


Elsewhere, dog owners are going to the dogs!


Here's one really angry cat (I love this Okto ad!)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Are you a schadenfreude person or a shep naches person?

The definitive "Are You a Happy Person" survey
(you need answer, truthfully of course, only one question)

* Do you feel elated when others are (or are also) happy or successful; or does your feeling of happiness depend on others' unhappiness or failure?

Sounds like a strange question? The New York Times section of TODAY (April 27) carried an article which featured an expert on "happiness"...

You can read the full article at the NYT site:


Here's the excerpt on whether you are a schadenfreude person or a shep naches person:

Here's another of Dr Lyubomirsky's observations:


Some weeks back, Dr Maureen Neihart, an American academic based in Singapore had also written a commentary, for ST, on happiness. She essentially made the point that there are tried and tested behavioural vaccines that an individual can avail himself or herself of, to achieve a happier state of mind:

Her tips on how to innoculate oneself with such a vaccine can be found on this Channel NewsAsia AM video clip featured on YouTube:


This poster below seems apt here:


Other stuff from the week's newspapers...

An unfortunate choice of headline/picture?

Great headline!

Strange headline...

This too: Parliament is a market place?

Last one: Got "productive" cough, meh?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Asking questions...

The usual ASEAN photo-op will show all 10 leaders already linking hands. But, somehow, they weren't quite ready when this photo was taken. I thought it was quite an apt commentary. though, on the state of disunity within the regional bloc vis-a-vis China despite this ST headline's protestations:


ANZAC Day is an important commemoration. But looking at the picture below...

... I asked this question: "Why are foreign military personnel allowed to carry arms in what is a Singapore public place? I have no issues with their presence, which is appropriate given the occasion. But foreign troops bearing arms in Singapore is, to me, an extra-territorial issue.


Why would anyone deface a monument like the Cenotaph (first pic below)? There has been at least one previous defilement of this commemoration of our war dead (second pic):

There seems to be a belief that it was a young man who carried out the recent act of vandalism, presumably because a man wearing a sweatshirt with a hoodie and carrying a backpack was spotted hurrying away. But I guess until there is an arrest and conviction, we cannot be sure, despite the story below:


On the subject of youth, employers now worry about Generation Y's work ethic...


In Hong Kong, they are starting to worry about even younger ones...

Hmm. Hong Kong and Singapore have many similarities. Should someone be carrying out a similar study here?


Finally, we may have to go back beyond babyhood -- back to the womb! -- to find hope in humanity's future...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

YouTube moments... inspirational, funny, musical!

The Recruit section of ST (April 25) had an article headlined "Change your mindset... How you think and feel about situations can transform your life".

This is the concluding segment of the article:

Intrigued about the reference to Lt Coffee -- a US Navy pilot shot down over North Vietnam during the Vietnam War -- I looked online for the YouTube video cited (note: it's youtube, not youtu.be). It was over 90 minutes long but I did find a two-parter, each less than 10 minutes, which gave the same inspirational account. If you have about 20 minutes to spare, usefully, of course, these are the two clips:




Still on YouTube videos, this one is called the Marshmallow Test:



Finally, you can use wine glasses to make music!...


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Interesting times ahead for ASEAN; and let's do the Geeky Cheeky Handshake!

Political scientist Mark Valencia echoes my own assessment that Southeast Asia (ie, the countries that now make up the ASEAN-10) seems set to, willy-nilly, become an arena for a contest for influence between "titans" China and the United States (ST Opinion, April 24):

He is also taking a leaf from Robert O. Tilman's seminal work (1984), "Southeast Asia and the Enemy Beyond: ASEAN Perception of External Threats" (but, notably, the Soviet threat no longer exists while it was extant when Tilman published his book). Valencia gives this contemporary thumbnail profile of several ASEAN members:

The international politics of Southeast Asia is already in its "interesting times". China is a skillful player and I suspect that when it recently sent ships as far south as James Shoal -- a disputed South China Sea maritime feature near tiny Brunei which has a limited claim (a small extension out to Louisa Reef) -- it was signalling to Brunei's rulers not to be over-zealous in pushing the South China Sea Code of Conduct agenda when carrying out its duties as the new ASEAN chair:

Still, if we remove ourselves from the pessimistic "half-empty" perspective, there is hope for a rosier, albeit long-term, "half-full" possibility if Western scholars make the effort to truly understand what makes China tick. Perhaps the lead in taking such initiatives will come from the West's private sector:

So, maybe -- just maybe -- Southeast Asia won't end up being an arena for great power rivalry. At this point, though, I'll hedge my bets.


Meanwhile, one famous businessman who came to Asia decided to invent what I shall call the "Geeky Cheeky Handshake". Yeah, man, let's all do it too...

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Imaginary butterflies and frogs, and real warning signs...

Former diplomat and now think-tank head Kishore Mahbubani has been asking Singaporeans if they want to see our transforming society-- one that is undergoing a metamorphosis, as he puts it -- "emerge as a happy butterfly, flitting around in a garden city, or... as a lonely frog, croaking away unhappily in a little well".


I just wonder why he imagines that butterflies are happy and that frogs are unhappy. The worse combination of alluded traits would be a happy frog sitting inside a pot of water that is slowly being boiled... you know that story! But guess what, scientists say frogs are no fools: they will jump out if given half a chance, whether the water is cold or hot:


But such quibbling aside, metaphors in the right context can be helpful. The frog in boiling water analogy refers to how well a subject adapts to changing circumstances. And the butterfly analogy can -- properly contexted -- vividly become a lesson in resilience through perseverance, and how good intentions -- say, shortcircuiting what should be the natural process -- can have devastating effects. Below is a very powerful story, simply titled "The Butterfly":



Warning signs

I had bemoaned the ridiculous low interest rates paid to ordinary, hard-working folk who in good faith put their money in the banking system (for which they have no representative voice). This ST Opinion piece (April 23) gives a much fuller, and troubling, picture by comparing an income-driven community with an asset-chasing community:

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Nothing Box (and, hey, we're proud of it!)

Ah, the war between the sexes! Why is there such a thing as "finishing school" for snooty young women?  Even some of the nouveau riche Chinese have taken to this idea:

I'm not sure if Zsa Zsa Gabor ever went to finishing school, but she sure had the right idea in this now classic quote of hers...

"A man in love is incomplete before marriage. After that, he is finished."

Ms Gabor is renowned for a number of other quotable quotes. Here's one link to them:



Here's another "battle of the sexes" joke I recently received:

A Man And A Woman Having A Conversation!

Lady: Do you drink beer?
Man: Yes

Lady: How many beers a day?

Man: Usually about 3

Lady: How much do you pay per beer?

Man: $5 with a tip

Lady: And how long have you been drinking?

Man: 20 years, I suppose

Lady: So a beer costs $5 and you have 3 beers a day which puts your
spending each month at $450. In one year, it would be $5400 correct?

Man: Correct

Lady: If in 1 year you spend $5400, not accounting for inflation, the past 20 years puts your spending at $108,000, correct?

Man: Correct

Lady: Do you know that if you didn't drink so much beer, that money could have been put in a step-up interest savings account and after accounting for compound interest for the past 20 years, you could have now bought a Ferrari?

Man: Do you drink beer?

Lady: No

Man: Where's your Ferrari?


Finally, this video on "Men's brain vs Women's brain" is worth watching...


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Missile envy...

There's this old Jay Leno joke about Kim Jong Il (current North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's father who died in December 2011):

"Kim Jong Il raises money by selling fake Viagra pills. What is it about this guy? None of his missiles seem to launch!"

Well, North Korea is back in the news, after having been virtually ignored in the past week as more dramatic news took precedence. The latest reports say Pyongyang seems to be preparing two more missiles for possible launch. But these may be Scuds, which are pretty vintage and in the short-range class:


The News.Com.Au story above has a very informative graphic, which notes that the North and South Korean militaries are the fifth and sixth largest in the world.


As usual, during the week just past, the North has been in full blustery mode:

Hmm, just sledgehammers, not missiles?

US President Barack Obama, meanwhile, downplayed the North's ability to mount a nuclear warhead atop any of its missiles -- yet.


Singapore schools -- with both the Korean peninsula situation and the bird flu scare in China -- are not taking chances, though...

But this student, from a premier school no less, isn't even sure if he should be worried about the bird flu situation in China. It's also a case of "Why think? The government will do it for me, and STOP me"...


Finally, this pic -- which someone posted on Facebook -- tells the young Un what the world thinks of him!