Sunday, November 30, 2014

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Three in full bloom, but one is still shy!

As of Friday afternoon (Nov 28)...

Finally, soon after midnight (Nov 30):

One shy bud. Tomorrow after midnight, perhaps?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Language purists losing the battle?

Several recent items in ST caught my attention. This was one:

I have always understood "razed" to mean "completely destroyed or demolished". It is an absolute word that -- like "unique" and "pregnant" -- cannot be graded or qualified. So, from a purist's point of view, there is no such thing as "razed part of the...".

But am I being pedantic? There is this delightful 1994 language column by James Kilpatrick in which he says "partly razed" is acceptable:

Language purists may be fighting a losing battle, as this extract from a book by two linguists notes:

Linguistics for Everyone (Kristin Denham and Anne Lobeck)


I stay firm, however, on misuse of words like "condo" and "talents":

A condo is the entire condominium! Within the condo are condo units, as this ST headline on another day makes clear:

This headline below is wrong!...

Just because NAFA has incorrectly named one of its schools "School of Young Talents" does not mean ST has to blindly follow suit. Just think of the TV series "Britain's Got Talent":

To put it simply, a collective of talented people cannot be referred to as "talents". But an individual talented person may have many talents.

Finally, this item in today's ST (Nov 26) has just created a new class of warship -- the missile-guided frigate!...

If you think about it, it is absolutely ridiculous to have a frigate sailing the seas for weeks and being guided by a missile (which cannot stay aloft for long)! There are, however, guided-missile frigates, that is, frigates armed with guided missiles.

Monday, November 24, 2014

4 Queens of the Night! Like rockets poised to launch (at midnight).

This is interesting... four keng hua (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) buds on one leaf! They will bloom around midnight soon (but not tonight)...  

Night shot, Nov 23
Daytime shot, Nov 24

The keng hua is also known as the "Queen of the Night". I found this New Straits Times article that sheds more light on this unusual cactus:,1769105

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Grandparents' Day

Apparently, today (Nov 23) is Grandparents' Day in Singapore (other places may mark the occasion on different dates). Here's one blog's take on what grandparenting can mean:


Someone posted this on Facebook. I shall title it...

How to get a Grandma to smile; better still, laugh!


Finally, this is a joke sent by one grandpa (CC) to another (me):

There was once a sheep farmer who needed help with the difficult task of castrating some of his inferior male sheep to keep them from breeding with the females. He hired a French guy who didn't speak English, but was a very good worker.

After the first day, they had successfully castrated 14 sheep and his French worker was just about to throw away the 'parts', but the sheep farmer yelled, "No! Don't throw those away! My wife fries them up and we eat them. They're delicious and we call them 'sheep fries'."

Later that day, the French hired hand came in for supper and indeed, the 'sheep fries' were tasty.

The next day, they castrated 16 sheep, and the following evening they all settled down to another supper of 'sheep fries'.

The third day, however, when the sheep farmer came home, he asked his wife where the French hired hand was.

She said, "You know, it was the weirdest thing! I told him since there weren't very many 'sheep fries' this evening, we were also going to have French fries. Then he screamed and ran like hell."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Brady (July 1997-November 2014)

We will meet again, my sweet, handsome dog. You were a survivor:
* OD'd on human medication you stole and went into a heart-thumping frenzy for hours till you eventually calmed down. You were then a few weeks old puppy;
* "flew" as if you had wings onto the kitchen top and stole 12 sticks of satay, with the vet saying, "Watch what comes out and be prepared for the worst";
* and you overcame your cancer.

Your best friends Bobby and Girly had gone on ahead and this day, you join them in Heaven.

You were the "kor kor" dog and bosom buddy to Killer who misses you too.

Angie created the montage below:

Lynn's requiem for you on Facebook:

Goodnight, Brady.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

That long break... this time, it's for real!

I mean it, so the items here are just to tidy up.

Dear Education Minister (Part 2),
yesterday, I pointed out to you a fantastic ad on game-changing educational practices. I spotted another one today, which I am also sharing with you (I am sure there are more out there, each one touting its special recipe):



On Monday, I showed this picture of this boy...

...and this mathematical problem (both from the same ad):

I made a tongue-in-cheek connection. A maths whiz then said, "Let me check if this equation is for real, and not just anyhow made up." Well, turns out that it is! And here's the solution, courtesy of the aforesaid maths whiz:

Impressive! But then, I belong in the "Catch no ball" category, maths-wise.


I think that it is rather weird that the $1 coin is legal tender up to any amount:

  So does this writer to ST Forum...


I think Singapore has found a new niche role, as a facilitator for military confidence building between the US' and Chinese militaries. Expect more Chinese warships to visit Changi Naval Base. Who knows, the PLA Navy might even join in future CARAT exercises!...


Finally, two videos specially for the over-50s!

Green Side of the Grass (The Other Side of 50)

I Don't Look Good Naked Anymore!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A 'Dear Education Minister' letter, and other stuff...

I'm still in a missive-writing mood...

Dear Education Minister,
I came across this startling advertisement in today's Straits Times (Nov 12) and I thought I should share its claims with you. But of course I might have been presumptuous as you -- with your vast bureaucracy of ever-alert, hard-working and dedicated civil servants -- may have already been aware of it:

This ad may well be a game-changer if its claimed methods are testable, verifiable and usable classroom-wide -- that is, in the schools -- rather than restricted to just parents who want to "save thousands of dollars a year on tuition fees". As we have been told, parents are already spending a billion dollars on tuition fees for their children and that does not look good on your ministry, no?...

The ad I mentioned even has this glowing endorsement from a parent:

Frankly, I am not sure if Mr Johnson Yip is:
(a) an ex-frustrated father, that is, he (for some reason) is no longer the boy's father!
or (b) he is, he is... I give up! There can only be one meaning if you call someone thus.

But I quibble over the poor wording above (there is a glaring grammatical error within the quote too).

So what say you? I am certainly not saying that Singapore's school children are not motivated to study. On the contrary, they seem to be, going by the supplementary tuition they are having, instead of playing soccer or netball after school hours.

My point is that, if the ad's claims are so fantastic, why reinvent the wheel? Go find out if those claims really work, school-wide. Singapore always prides itself on adopting best practices, right?


Poor Xinhua. This was the first version of a story sent out by the Chinese news agency, and quickly picked up by foreign media like GlobalPost:

All Chinese media later used the corrected version:

Still on APEC, I have my own correction... to my item on Mr Putin yesterday. It appears that the Russian president is "newly single" (story in ST, Nov 12) so he won't need to do any explaining to his wife about the now infamous "coatgate" incident:

Incidentally, the headline above is excellent! It deserves a Headline of the Month nomination.

But I felt that the Page One lead story in ST ("Apec leaders inch closer to creating free trade area", Nov 12) failed to make the cut...

The reader is left unsatisfied! Okay, the FTAAP is not a Chinese idea. Okay, it was broached in 2004. But who/which country came up with the idea? Such a journalistic lapse is unacceptable.

Fortunately, I found the answer in a commentary piece by Dr Chan Heng Chee (one of my political science mentors back then in university):

So there you are. The FTAAP was ironically an American idea, now eagerly taken by China but now kept at arm's length by Uncle Sam!

Dr Chan's commentary is well worth a read:

But its concluding paragraph was marred by poor copy editing... a grammatical error ("their", not "its") was not rectified:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Dear Mr Xi, Mr Abe, Mr Putin...

Dear Mr Xi and Mr Abe,
this  media photo shows the two of you, shall we say, frozen in time:

You could have shut off the air-conditioning in that room and Hell would have frozen over. May I, with due respect, and in the interest of everyone else's fervent hope for warmer relations all-round in the Asia-Pacific, implore you two to listen to this by now iconic song from the movie Frozen:

The lyrics are provided in the YouTube clip so please, please, sing along as a duet (while shaking hands more warmly and sincerely) and LET IT GO! LET IT GO!


Dear Mr Putin,
they say a picture says a thousand words This one sure did...

Here in Singapore, we might just exclaim, "Walau, this one chee ko pek or what??" And your timing was exquisite... just when the husband was pally pally-ing with Mr Obama.

Of course the Western media went to town with the story, such as this CNN piece complete with a video of that "shawl we dance?" moment...

Cut the shawl talk: Chinese censors wipe Putin's move on China's first lady

So the Chinese were not amused, huh? I suggest you write Mr Xi a note explaining that you were trying to maintain the warm relations between the two countries. The Asia-Pacific sure needs warmer ties all-round.

Dear Director of the next Star Trek movie,
I didn't know you were invited to the APEC leaders' summit in Beijing.

And that you have found your entire cast of actors there! How else, all that Star Trek-like attire as seen in the photo op??...

Anyway, all APEC leaders,
live long and prosper, keep warm and warm up ties too, and Mr Putin, I wish you all the best as you try to explain to your wife what you were doing.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Chinese classic revised, and other stuff...

Dream of the Red chamber?
(version 2014)


Crouching Merlion, Smitten Dragon?
(version 2014)

Actually, this exercise will have been interesting, interoperability and logistics-wise. Even the ammunition used will be incompatible... for example, the SAF uses 5.56mm rounds for its assault rifle while the PLA uses 7.62mm rounds. This inconvenience aside, we are told the troopers had a really great time "charging up the hill together" and fighting "shoulder to shoulder in the battlefield":

So, was the big Eagle watching all this camaraderie?

Now, it's "First to tuition, then to school"...

Once upon a time, schoolchildren here grew up on the slogan "First to Bata, then to school":

Not these days. It is either "tuition, then school" or "school, then tuition" (whichever)...

Incidentally, those tuition centres that call themselves "enrichment centres" got it spot-on!

And, with so much money spent on tuition, one would expect Singaporeans to at least pronounce that three-syllabic word correctly. But what does one commonly hear?... "Tue-sion"!!

I decided to check out some of the ads:

Give your child? (a) the Love for Learning? (b) PSLE subjects? Even if your England is not so powderful, I am sure you sensed something wrong in the way this tagline was written.

Any money-back guarantee if your child ends up not so smart and/or not so happy?

I felt that this ad below is in a class of its own...

I think the look on the child's face is one of incredulity!...

I would too, if I had to solve equations like this one...


High-speed journalism

Finally, old school journalists were taught never to jump the gun by "sexing" up a story, especially if a court proceeding or inquiry would take place following the said event...

How did the reporter know with 100 per cent certainty that it was a high-speed car crash? The word of a policeman (who, anyway, did qualify his assertion)? And, as I have noted, so many experienced eyes going through copy and page proofs...