Friday, November 20, 2015

Science can be fun!

I love science but never had teachers who inspired me. Now, according to this ST headline below (ST, Nov 20) Singapore is trying to...

Get public to start 'liking' science

I also think science quizzes are an excellent way to maintain one's interest in science. The Huffington Post has this fairly easy one even though the headline says...

Can You Pass The Science Quiz That Too Many Americans Failed?

How can anyone fail a quiz when the questions include one that asks you whether the sun revolves around the earth or the earth revolves around the sun??

I have been waiting for the opportune moment to use these science-themed images below. Here they are:

Haha, that one above was good! In closing...


I will be travelling on holiday, so will take a break from blogging.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The awakened dragon grows in geopolitical confidence...

I posted this comment on Facebook today (Nov 16):

China watchers should sit up when Fu Ying pens a commentary. She is laying out what a China-centric East Asia should become (and how the US and Japan should act). Pity ST Opinion did not project her piece as its primary commentary in place of Jonathan Eyal's "abuthen" piece on the Paris attacks.

Meanwhile, ex-diplomat and current think-tank head Kishore Mahbubani had written this commentary two days ago:

This was my comment on his piece:

So, which ULTIMATELY prevails...power, institutions, or ideas?

Finally, the meeting in Singapore between Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou generated a lot of commentaries. This one is pretty good...

The Xi-Ma Meeting: Why Singapore?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Health nuts!

Someone I know recently celebrated his 80th birthday. We took him to a restaurant where good food was served. Good but not necessarily healthy, so the health nuts would admonish. Who cares!

A health nut posted this one...

Just when you thought it was safe to drink water (and only water)!


There was a recent WHO report about why processed meats such as sausages, ham and bacon are bad for your health...

Well, as even the health nuts would say, everything in moderation. So, should we take health advisories with a pinch of salt, or a huge helping of humour? As I said in a post on Facebook:

Stop wiener-ing. It had been the best of times, it had been the wurst of times, but in these times, you are no longer to bring home the bacon...


Whatever. I must have my dessert...

After all...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Law of Unintended Consequences.

This headline caught my attention (Sunday Times, Nov 1, page C20):

I then wrote a Facebook post:

I was bemused by the headline "The economy of snakes and rabbits" in Larry Haverkamp's SunTimes column today (pg C20). Ah, he was regaling the reader with 2 examples of The Law Of Unintended Consequences. Case No 1: Australia imported rabbits so they could shoot Roger and his mates for sport. Well, turned out the animals got lucky in the Lucky Country and scored (with each other) than they were being shot at! So now there are 20 million rabbits Down Under. Case No 2 is about how India tried to control the number of wild cobras there by offering a bounty. Well, people starting breeding cobras and, yes, there are now more cobras than before. 

My own observation? Singapore's failed twist-and-turn population policy. And now China is about to reverse it's One-Child policy. It won't succeed if TLOUC kicks in.

Michael came in with this example:

There is also the tragicomedy of the cane toad in Australia.

To which I responded:

Ah yes. I am sure examples elsewhere abound. To be fair, there are positive examples of TLOUC.

Michael again:

Like Aspirin is now a blood thinner???

Irene offered this solution to the rabbit problem:

What Australia needs is a bunch of talented Cantonese chefs to set up lotsa restaurants dishing up delicious rabbit cuisine.

And I said:

Haha...Rabbit Jumps Over The Wall!


I was curious about this so-called law. I like WiseGeeks' write-up on it:

What is the Law of Unintended Consequences?

Finally, from Quora, is this fascinating item!...

What are the best examples of the law of unintended consequences in action?

Women who have given birth... say thank you to one Dr Ignaz Semmelweis!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Songs of yearning.

What is yearning? Is yearning a "longing for", a return to what was? But surely yearning may also be a longing for what can be? So someone happy with the present circumstances does not yearn?... until or unless the circumstances change? Then again, one may yearn for something unattainable or not yet attained (and which presumably may be attained). Perhaps there are 50 shades of yearning!

I came across this yearning quote:

There is also a thought-provoking explanation by a present-day song-writer about why the evergreen 1939 song "(Somewhere) Over The Rainbow" is so powerfully evocative to many people:

Why did "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" get into our hearts and stay there?

In a sense, the song "manipulates" us to share in Dorothy's yearning for a wondrous place -- but one in which she knows she must ultimately leave to return to where she had begun her adventure.


I started to think if I knew of other songs from musicals that have this "yearning" motif. Here are five that came off my sleepy head at this moment of writing:

Sunrise, Sunset (Fiddler On The Roof)
The Way We Were (The Way We Were)
Try To Remember (The Fantasticks)
I Dream A Dream (Les Miserables)

And to wrap up on a cheery note:
Tomorrow (Annie).

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wi-fi humour.

Finally, this last one is not meant to be funny. With the acrid smog now covering much of the region in mind, it is tragic that majestic forests and peatland swamps rich in fauna and flora are being mercilessly decimated...

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Joke overboard...quick, throw a laughline!

My hat! My hat! My knickers for a hat!

Dental on my mind

A guy went to a dentist to have a tooth extracted.
She pulled out a large syringe to give an anesthetic shot.
"No way, no needles! I hate needles!" the man said.
So she started to hook up the nitrous oxide tank, and the man said, "I can't do the gas thing.
Just the thought of having a mask on my face suffocates me!"
The dentist then asked the patient if he had any objections to taking a pill.
"No," he said, "I'm fine with pills."
The dentist gave him two little blue pills and he swallowed them.
"What are those?" he asked.
"Viagra," she replied.
"I'll be damned," said the patient, "I didn't know Viagra worked as a pain killer."
"It doesn't," said the dentist, "But it will give you something to hold on to when I pull your tooth out."

What a dork!

An obituary printed in the London Times...

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend,
Common Sense, who has been with us for many years.
No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.
He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

-Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
-Why the early bird gets the worm;
-Life isn't always fair;
-And maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (Don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (Adults not children are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place.
Reports of a 6- year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.
It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment then their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot.
She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death,
-by his parents, Truth and Trust,
-by his wife, Discretion,
-by his daughter, Responsibility,
-and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 5 step-brothers;
-I Know My Rights
-I Want It Now
-Someone Else Is To Blame
-I'm A Victim
-Pay Me for Doing Nothing

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

So, was there such an obituary? Here's what Snopes found out...

Obituary: Common Sense

Mind over matter...

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Post-birthday icing in the cake!

It feels good when you open the Sunday newspaper and you see yourself, Angie and little Matt on Page A6...

These two titles were recently published:

The third one in what I have dubbed the Matthew Trilogy, Matthew and the Horrid Haze, will be out within the next couple of weeks.

Update (Oct 22):
The "Haze" book is still not ready but this is what the cover and back piece will look like!...

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Why birthdays are good for your health.

I think this is self-explanatory:

And what did I do on my birthday? Gone Fishing, with my 18-month-old grandson. Sort of. We went to this restaurant called Fish & Co for lunch with family members.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The forgotten air war of Malaya, 1941 to 1945

I remembered my late father telling me that the Royal Air Force was no match for the Japanese Imperial Air Force once the air war began in late 1941 over Malaya and Singapore. Why? He said the mainstay of the RAF fighter fleet based in Singapore was the ungainly American-built Brewster Buffalo (what a name, but then perhaps appropriately so!) which was no match for the Nakajima Oscar (and the superbly agile Zero) fighter on the enemy side. It seemed that the Brits sent over some Hawker Hurricanes -- the famous victors, together with the Supermarine Spitfires, over the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain -- but these were mostly destroyed by the Japs while on the ground!

So, it was Buffalo vs Oscar and Zero, and before long the Japs had total command of the air and its air force easily sank the battleship Prince of Wales and the cruiser Repulse on Dec 10, 1941.

Here's what one website said about the Buffalo:
The Sorry Saga of the Brewster Buffalo

And here's what Wikipedia has to say about the Buffalo's record of combat service in this air war:

When the Japanese invaded northern Malaya on 8 December 1941, the B-339E initially performed adequately. Against the Nakajima Ki-27 "Nate", the overloaded Brewsters could at least hold their own if given time to get to altitude, and at first achieved a respectable number of kills. However, the appearance of ever greater numbers of Japanese fighters, including markedly superior types such as the Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar" soon overwhelmed the Buffalo pilots, both in the air and on the ground. Another significant factor was the Brewster engine's tendency to overheat in the tropical climate, which caused oil to spray over the windscreen, usually forcing an aborted mission and greatly complicating attempts to intercept and destroy enemy aircraft. In the end, more than 60 Brewster Mk I (B-339E) aircraft were shot down in combat, 40 destroyed on the ground, and approximately 20 more destroyed in accidents. Only about 20 Buffalos survived to reach India or the Dutch East Indies.[49]

The nagging question, with the benefit of hindsight is: What if the RAF had better fighters, and in sufficient numbers with combat-exposed pilots as well (the Battle of Britain had been well over by then)? Who knows, there might have been no Japanese Interregnum, no Syonan-to.

The other interesting bit I came across was that the USAF, later in the war, began bombing raids over Singapore and even my little island in the sun, Pulau Bukom!

I had joined a Facebook group, On a little street in Singapore,  and this photo and caption that Jerome Lim posted intrigued me:

B29s attacking the Naval Base. The primary target the King George VI graving dock can quite clearly be seen. Also can identify the roundabout at the dockyard entrance gate, Canberra Road, Admiralty Road West, Bermuda Road etc (photo source: Zafrani Arifin)

It led to some questions from me:

"B-29 in flight" by Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -
Hmm, B29s are long range superfortresses. Fully loaded and fuelled, they wd need large airfields. Guam? And the fighter escorts must have come from aircraft carriers, since Guam is too far for them?

James Tann supplied these answers:

The B-29 flew out of Calcutta and headed straight for Saipan after the bombings. They did not have fighter escorts and relied on their own turret machine guns.
Due to the extreme long range from Calcutta to Singapore, each B-29 could only carry 2x1000lbs bomb each. However, the lack of munitions were made up by its accuracy using their new secret weapon - the Norton Bombsight.
This is a great picture man! priceless

The 1st raid by 53 B-29s was in Nov 1944 and was very successful due to their unexpected arrival which caught the Japanese by surprise. The KGVI graving dock was hit and damaged along with other facilities. After the raid, local civilians working at the docks were indiscriminately rounded up and in retaliation were shot as spies suspected of giving information to the enemy for the raid.

Subsequent raids were carried out in Jan & Feb 1945 after which Lord Louis Mountbatten stopped the bombing of the Naval Base as he was already planning for the re-occupation of Singapore and would need to used the Naval Base for this purpose.
A further 7 raids were carried out by B-29s but these focused on the Keppel Harbour and oil refineries (at Bukom).

ChanPeew Wan added this:

History has it that the Brits themselves tried to blow up the KGVI graving dock to deprive the Japs from using the facility. They managed to knock off part of the pump house.
Part of the pump house was replaced by the Japs and when the war was over, the Brits never replaced the Jap parts.....KGVI drydock served to its present day....

I learnt so much from their sharing.

Finally, I found online this very informative piece by one Goh K. Loon:

The Forgotten Air War of Malaya

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Beware of tpyos!

So how many tigers did you spot in this image, which I posted yesterday?

There are 17 tigers in all. If you have tried this "sharp-eye test" and found fewer than 17, scroll down to the bottom of today's blog entry to see them all, numbered for your convenience. If you have not tried it yet, give it a go (by all means, enlarge the image above)!

If I were hiring someone for a job that requires proofreading smarts (such as an editor or copy editor), I would not use such a test. But I would expect that individual to spot or preempt the errors below:

This next one requires awareness about a certain famous American personality:

This one is local (ST). I would not use "call of nature" because of its idiomatic slang meaning:

KA spotted this one, in yesterday's Sunday Times:

I found this one (below) online. It is quite hilarious!...
(ST, take note; some of your WISHBs could be written up with a similar touch of humour, perhaps for the blooper above.)

This was also found online...well, if there are Iron Chefs, why not Concrete Chefs?

So, if your job requires you to proofread diligently...

Better still...


Finally, here are the 17 tigers...