Thursday, February 27, 2014

Fasten your seat belt... mirth zone ahead!

I'll be away in Sydney for the next few days so I won't be blogging till I get back. Meanwhile, here's an assortment of light-hearted stuff:

New Seat Belt Law:

This law becomes effective JUNE, 2014.

The Highway Safety Council has done extensive testing on a newly designed seat belt.

It was found that accidents were reduced by up to 95% when the belt was properly worn.

Correct Installation is illustrated below.......

Please pass on to family and friends.


This can really save lives and lower blood pressure by 40%


Then there was this photobomb when a man walked passed -- just as a new micro-sized vehicle was being unveiled to journalists in India...


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Enter the Mattmobile...

ST earlier this week ran a picture story about an indulgent grandfather in Henan, China...

As for this grandfather-to-be (moi), he has assembled complicated scale model cars in his lifetime but a "Lambo" of such dimensions as the one above is way beyond his technical competence.

Meanwhile, there will be a mother and child reunion next month and this grandfather-to-be (and the grandmother-to-be too) reckoned there will be many occasions thereafter when a seven-seater baby pram would come in handy. So while the mum-to-be and the dad-to-be went about looking for the usual single-seater pram for baby-to-be Matthew (Matt), the two seniors went a-searching for a suitable seven-seater, a.k.a. an MPV.

And so, the Mattmobile arrived last month...

Yes, it even comes with a sun-roof so baby Matt can have a peek at the billowy clouds. Vroom with a view, so to speak.

In welcoming the Mattmobile, we also made the pragmatic (ie, head over heart) decision to part with our "Sweet Pork" (Swift Sport) and our "Flu Bug" (Renault Fluence). Here's Sweet Pork, decked out in "Rudolph the Red Nose" reindeer gear for last year's Christmas...

...and playing its patriotic part during National Day celebrations:

    I shall especially miss Sweet Pork. And here's our parting "shot" of the Flu Bug:

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The fun pursuit of car-spotting...

My father-in-law found this somewhat tattered Straits Times clipping of a Ford motorcar ad among his stuff, and kindly offered it to me for my blog:

The publication date (gleaned from another segment of the page) was Dec 14, 1931.

I first uploaded the image onto the family's WhatsApp circle and Beng -- the self-appointed number-cruncher -- estimated that a 1931 sticker price of $1,330 would command an $80,000 price tag today. That's not even adding in the taxes, additional taxes and that infamous euphemism, the Certificate of Entitlement (COE). But such a car today would be priceless!

A touch of serendipity followed. I happened to browse through the current AAS magazine and I found this throwback to Singapore's automotive history:

Wow! The first cars to arrive here came in August 1896. Did local motoring enthusiasts commemorate the event back in 1996? I can't remember.

LP, meantime, commented that the address of the Ford showroom in the first image above -- 45, Orchard Road -- was near where MacDonald House still stands. When the terrorists' bomb went off there in 1965, these two cars (below) had been parked outside:

I decided to test my car-spotting ability. The car in front, I believe, was a Nash Metropolitan, usually for being a 1960s-era America-made sub-compact (an era when Detroit made big-sized/big-fendered and/or ostentatious cars). I found this image of a Nash Met on the Net:

As for the other car, my guess is that it was a Holden EK. This image, of the model's station-wagon version, was also found online:

Now I was getting excited. I had taken these pictures of a faded Pontiac when I visited the Teddy Bear Museum in Jeju, South Korea:

So which model was it and which era was it from? I'll hazard this guess:

[Update: Looking more carefully at the Pontiac ad above, I realised that even in 1954, the car featured a single-piece windscreen whereas the car in Jeju had a two-piece windscreen. So the latter is likely an older Pontiac model. Both grilles also seem to be different.]

When I was checking out Teachers Estate a while back (and which I blogged about), I came across this really super classic Jensen sports car, parked next to some shop houses. This limited edition British-made GT (Grand Touring) car is either the Interceptor or the FF:

It seems hard to believe that such a sleek car first appeared in 1966. The FF also achieved fame for it being the preferred choice of metallic steed by James Bond (sacrilegiously ditching the Aston Martin marque) in the book "Solo" written, not by Ian Fleming, but by William Boyd:

I'll wrap up and when I continue tomorrow, I will unveil the Mattmobile!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Of bleached refuse, attention-generating ads, and 10 'super' writing tips...

I have lamented that many Singaporeans are clueless about how their own country ticks. Sometimes it takes a foreigner to show us! This writer -- a journalist, ahbuthen --  does it so elegantly...

White 'trash' on the little red dot
by JFK Miller

Mr Miller may appear flippant at times, but is he?


I'm keeping to my resolve not to comment on a certain new but, sadly, debased label. I'll leave it to the advertisers to show how "seriously" they are viewing it. I had already posted this one...

Now this one has cheerily (and cheekily) chipped in...

Hmmm. There is a Biblical idiom, "out of the mouths of babes". Maybe these advertisers are saying things that are wiser than their seeming flippancy.

Finally, so you want to be the next Pulitzer prize winner for literature? Lynn posted this to help aspirants along...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Looking back...

Nah, I'm not blogging about PGers. I am putting a seniors joke here titled "Looking back -- when you are 65"...

Teen Age: 

Have Time + Energy …but No Money 

Working Age: 

Have Money + Energy …but No Time 

Old Age: 

Have Time + Money …but no Energy 


Don't laugh. 
It's all true! Perks of being  60-plus...

 Kidnappers  are not very interested in you.

 In a hostage situation, you are likely to be  released first.

 No one expects  you to run --  anywhere.

 People call at  9 pm and ask,  'Did I wake you?'

 People no longer  view you as a  hypochondriac.

6.There's nothing left to 
learn the hard way.

 Stuff you buy now 
won't wear out.

 You can eat  supper at 4 pm.

 You can live without sex  but not your glasses.

 You get into heated arguments about pension plans.

 You no longer think speed limits are a challenge to be met head-on.

 You quit trying to hold your stomach in -- no matter who walks into the room.

 You sing along  to the elevator music.

 Your eyes   won't get  much worse.

15.Your health
insurance is finally paying off.

 Your joints are a more accurate 'meteorologist'   than the weather service.

 Your secrets are safe  with your friends -- they can't  remember them either, or they will soon tell no tales, if not already.

18. Your brain cells are finally down to  a manageable size.

 You can't remember  who sent you this list. But you noticed it's all  in big print  for your convenience.

ONE MORE THING (#20)... 

Never, never, un
der any circumstances, 
take a sleeping pill
  and a laxative on the same night! 

Saturday, February 22, 2014

It's pathetic... a dividing line that divides.

I thought I had said all I wanted to say about that absurd dividing line -- Dec 31, 1949 and Jan 1, 1950 -- that separates the presumed Pioneer Generation (PG) from "the rest" of Singaporeans. Anyone with any brain will agree that if such a new label has to be invented, the dividing line should be the prewar generation and the post-war baby boomers.

The post-war baby boomers form a distinctive group -- many come from large families and still have elderly parents or even elderly siblings for whom they are the caregivers; at the same time they have Gen X and Gen Y children who, let's put it this way, have a "different mindset". The issues faced by baby boomers are not confined to Singapore, as even those in the USA grapple with them, as summarised by this blurb on an article on American society:

So why am I revisiting the PG issue? There must have been other voices of disquiet, for Deputy PM Teo Chee Hean to want to attempt an explanation for the cut-off criterion:

I think his reasoning is flawed. The first batch of NSmen -- and I presume he means that very first batch -- is indeed deserving of special recognition. No issues there. I do not think they are a huge number, though. Certainly, not the 190,000 that make up those (men and women) born between 1945 and 1949 and who are still living. So why not just include this special group of NSmen? [Update: There are only 900 of these full-time NSmen; they enlisted in July 1967. Sunday Times, Feb 23, page 3.] Why the need to include all 190,000?

Incidentally, someone like me -- born in late 1950 -- ended up doing both police national service and military national service (among the people I know, not many had to wear two types of uniforms). The first call-up came when I turned 18 and the second one when I was accepted into university and had to wear army green first before I could start my first year at uni (ie, many of the females in my pre-university cohort and the males who did not have to do NS were final-year uni students by the time I and other NS-enlisted males got into first-year uni).

After this blog entry, I really shall not want to have anything to say about this PG thing, except to wonder if those figures -- 190,000 and 450,000 (all the living PGers) -- have significance vis-a-vis political mileage.

One property developer -- spotting a chance to score on advertising mileage? -- certainly wasted no time in coming up with a PG-themed ad!...

Friday, February 21, 2014

What glows, changes form, goes for gold, goes by the book, and is a blast?

I've never seen an angel. So how does one visualise an "angelic glow"?...

The ad above tried to be helpful with its picture of a model trying to look angelic:

But I still don't see any glow. In contrast, this reindeer below definitely glows:

So maybe all the model needs is some reflective spray to achieve that angelic glow.

As for this amazing ad below...

Wow! These magical crystals will transform into "supple and firm skin"! Just take some out and, voila, skin is created! But, um, doesn't all that skin created from crystals need a body or head (or, in this case, presumably a face)? The problem with this ad is its jarring use of the transitive verb "transforms" which requires an object. Better to be less grandious-sounding and say, no less effectively, "The result? Supple & Firm skin".

It gets more bizarre. In this ad below, just what are "fats" or "unwanted fats" (ie, instead of "unwanted fat")? Assuming that English isn't the copy writer's forte, when you pawn something, you hope to get it back eventually, don't you? Actually, you may never get your "gold bar" because, I think, if you lose 2 kilos of your body's fat -- as opposed to losing 2 kilos of your body weight -- you might have to shed more kilos than your doctor would advise you to. But if you persist and insist on claiming your "gold bar" (as in what you see in the vaults at Fort Knox), get a lawyer to press your case. What you may think is a "gold bar" (as stated) may be just a "gold wafer" or "gold medallion"...

But getting a lawyer is not always helpful. I think only a humorless lawyer could have written this caveat for this book I bought, which is a compilation of jokes:

Finally, be careful when you want to open an email that has just arrived. You may even want to call in the bomb squad to stand by, just in case there is a "blast", as is likely here:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

About names...

Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa and I were fellow PhD students at the Australian National University. He was in the International Relations programme and I was in the Strategic Studies programme but, on not a few occasions, we would meet for afternoon coffee in the common tearoom at the H.C. Coombs Building. I always knew him as Marty and also that his family name is Natalegawa. What I do not understand is why The Straits Times persists in referring to him, on subsequent mention, as Dr Marty:

Some may argue that most Indonesian names are either singular or, like Malaysian and Singaporean Malay names, rendered such that the second part of the name is actually the father's name, eg, Malaysian PM Najib Razak has to be called Mr Najib on subsequent mention because Razak is his father's name and is not meant to be taken as a surname.

But, no, Marty is Dr Natalegawa on subsequent mention. ST can't claim conformity to its house style because it does -- correctly -- refer to the Indonesian president as Dr Yudhoyono:

TODAY does get it right, although it tends to follow the Western media's reporting style and ignore Marty's doctorate, ie, he is typically (not always, though) called Mr Natalegawa:


Still on politicians' names, Thai names are particularly tricky to get right. Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra's family name is not pronounced as it is written. It should be pronounced as "Shi-nah-wat". But if that spelling with the extra silent "ra" is how it should be, as translated from the Thai written script, why is this Thai demonstrator holding this placard?...

For the record, Vietnamese names are hard to get right too. "Nguyen" is pronounced as "Ggwen". Just to be sure, there is even a YouTube guide to help you get it right!...

I have extended family members and many Chinese friends with the surname "Ng". But apparently, Westerners have great difficulty getting it right, pronunciation-wise. Actually, I must confess that I can't find a way to write it down here as pronounced! Whatever you do, DO NOT pronounce "Ng" as "Ink", as this misleadimg YouTube clip tries to do...

I was told there was (is?) a building in Singapore called "Ng Building" but the name was changed to something else because Westerners kept tripping up when they tried to pronounce the "Ng" part. I can't verify if that's just an urban legend tale, though.

Finally, ST ran this commentary (Feb 20) by Indonesia's armed forces chief on the bilateral furore that has erupted over the controversial naming of an Indonesian warship:

Given the writer's credentials, it is certainly an important opinion piece. I read it carefully to locate the article's "nut graf" (ie, nutshell paragraph). I believe it is this one:


I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusion about the writer's sentiment.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pardon my French!

Did Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, in the course of an address in Parliament yesterday (Feb 18), cause a number of parliamentarians and readers of TODAY (Feb 19) to scramble for their online dictionary (who uses the hard copy variety these days?)?

Dr Ng had used the expression "bete noire" (which is of French origin; literally, it means "black beast"). TODAY even lifted out the phrase for a strap headline without explaining in the text of the story what it means:

I suspect the TODAY editors were clueless. Dr Ng did use the term correctly: "It (the warship) would be a bete noire...". But TODAY, in its interpretation, elevated the warship's opprobrium value to near-epic proportion: "Vessel our bete noire..." and "Calling the ship Singapore's bete noire...". Pardon my French, but, no, bete noire simply means...

a person or a thing strongly disliked/detested or avoided

Dr Ng was right to declare that the warship was not welcomed here. And how did an Indonesian minister, a former armed forces chief, react? Here's his response:

Singaporeans will do well to remember that when we ourselves jokingly refer to Singapore as the "little red dot", we are likely thinking of images like chilli padi (diminutive but potent). Bigger neighbours may not share that view. I am glad Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam put things in perspective:


Staying with the international politics of the region, Indonesia seems to have become emboldened in telling China what it must -- or must not -- do!...

In contrast, Malaysia has been taking pains to avoid tensions with China:

I certainly hope, when China and Indonesia become more powerful countries, the former will not insist on a "hia-tee" (Hokkien: bigger male sibling/smaller male sibling) structure of regional ties and the latter will not insist on a similar "abang-adik" relationship with its fellow ASEAN neighbours.

I am also wondering how Singapore will respond should the Chinese navy send its aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, sailing through the region with a request to make a stopover at Changi naval base -- just when a US Navy carrier strike group is in town. We may be in for interesting times.