Sunday, May 31, 2015

Correct grammar IS important...

Nick sent me this, with the exclamation, "Bad grammar from the Beeb!"...

Why not? There is, after all, a saying, "to flog a dead horse".
Separately, David sent me this...

Either way, the horse has to be alive, no? 
Last one. I thought it should be "outsized" but I do see some (mainly US) mainstream and social media opting for "outsize"...

Straits Times, May 27

A couple of examples...

Friday, May 29, 2015

True pioneers... they kept S'pore secure in turbulent years.


Fifty years of nationhood! The air force and SIA are doing their part:

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Squeezed mangoes, grape expectations, and brain-boosting dark chocs...

Mangoes were squeezed last week:

The good news came this week:

Never say "sour grapes" here. And I am not sure if anyone wants to squeeze these... probably caress each one wistfully before popping into the mouth:

Grape expectations! Picture: KA.
Finally, much ink has been devoted (and online bandwidth too) to that dreaded "midday slump" that eats into one's productivity:

The Huffington Post even cobbled together...

11 Caffeine-Free Ways To Beat Your Midday Slump

Well, here's good news for dark-chocolate eaters:

Dark Chocolate Found To Lengthen Attention Span And Improve Brain Alertness

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

One question journos should ask China at the Shangri-La Dialogue.

China has unveiled its latest Defence White Paper:

ST, May 27

Interestingly, while much of the media's attention has been focused on the brouhaha over the South China Sea and the People's Liberation Army's commitment of resources to modernisation of  maritime assets, the White Paper takes a gloomy look as well at the Korean Peninsula -- a more serious flashpoint involving its truculent ally, North Korea:

China Warns of 'Instability' on Korean Peninsula

So, in East Asia, is China more watchful over the South China Sea (involving the ASEAN minions) or East Asia (involving Japan and the two Koreas)?


But the key question about the latest White Paper is this: Is China no longer adhering to its much-vaunted (and highly praised) pledge of "No First Use" of its nuclear arsenal? The previous document in 2013 had been ambiguous about this pledge and it looks like the 2015 edition has done likewise:

The 2015 edition merely says: "We will not attack unless we are attacked, but we will surely counterattack if attacked."

I think this is still semantically vague as it does not specifically say China will not be the first to use nuclear weapons (it had explicitly said so in the past).

Finally, China is sending an admiral as head of its delegation to the Singapore-hosted Shangri-La Dialogue. Beijing had previously sent PLA generals and I believe this is the first time a PLAN admiral is helming its team:

ST, May 27
I am sure the media has many questions for Admiral Sun about China's maritime ambitions and its next steps in the South China Sea. I am sure he has all the ready answers.

The journalists at the talk fest should also nail him down to an unqualified reiteration of China's "No First Use" of nuclear weapons.

Monday, May 25, 2015

South China Sea: War of words -- for now?

Headlines in the past few days on the South China Sea issue have been getting shriller by the day -- especially after it was reported that a US Navy maritime surveillance plane flying near one of the Chinese-held islands had been told to get lost (my words).

Analysts keeping tabs on the issue were amazed at the sudden raising of the stakes by the US and China. I am sure the assessment of the writer below is echoed by many others:

ST, May 22, 2015

The overriding question was: Why is the US hardening its stance NOW?

It is still unimaginable why these two big powers would clash militarily or even go to war over the South China Sea. But one might be alarmed by some recent headlines:

'WAR IS INEVITABLE' | China state media warns US on South China Sea tensions

History’s Next Great War Zone: The South China Sea

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Bouncy, and not so bouncy.

Thanks to Irene, for posting this very nicely-penned Business Times commentary on Facebook:

Bouncing off Tharman's trampoline
What other bouncing metaphors are there? Off my head, I can think of dead cat bounce -- "a small, brief recovery in a declining stock" (Wikipedia):


Beds are, of course, not for bouncing, unless you are a child! This series of recent "fun" bedroom ads were pretty catchy:

The company that ran the ads also carried this "bedroom secrets" quiz:

So, we should all get rid of our old mattresses after 10 years?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

South China Sea: Be careful what you wish for.

Looks like the South China Sea issue has now been internationalised, with the US' and Chinese military forces eyeballing each other...

Exclusive: China warns U.S. surveillance plane


I wonder if the Philippines and Vietnam -- two of the claimant states, and the two that have most frequently crossed swords with China over the South China Sea -- are now happier with the new development.

Meanwhile, Japan has a dispute with China over their rival claims in the East China Sea. That's another area where China can ratchet up pressure on a US treaty ally.

On the other hand, the last thing China wants is to be perceived as a common military threat to both Northeast and Southeast Asian countries (and to Australasia as well).

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

So well said...

So, no pain, no gain?...

Hey, mangoes, I feel your pain.
So, he upset the very fabric of society?

So, don't bring "home" the bacon!

So, do they still text up there?

So, it's all contextual. Period.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

America pivots to Asia. So does pivots to China.

I love this Economist magazine illustration of two wary-eyed lovey doveys!...

An uneasy friendship

At around the same time as the article above appeared (nearly two weeks ago), this Reuters story appeared in ST:

Finally, the US' pivot is garnering steam...

Monday, May 18, 2015

Quite a damp squib, Mr Kerry...

Fireworks over the South China Sea issue were anticipated as Mr "Shoot from the lips" John Kerry rode west, into the wild wild Chinese capital, Beijing....

Sunday Times, May 17
So what happened next? He expressed "concern" about Chinese actions in the disputed waters, and President Xi Jinping expressed "concern" about announced American military activities in those waters and in the air spaces above. After that, they sat down to, well, not exactly smoke the peace pipe, but to drink mao tai and to talk really, really serious stuff, like North Korea's nuclear ambitions. And, in a final flourish, Mr Xi invoked the imagery of "This town is big enough for the both of us" when he declared:

Straits Times, May 18
Saddle up, Mr Kerry. After an equally quick visit to South Korea, it's time to get back to Washington.

Meanwhile, Down Under, Prime Minister Tony Abbott had to hunker down into fire fighting mode after a senior US Defence official apparently "misspoke" (whatever does this word mean??) about the deployment of B1 nuclear-capable strategic bombers to Oz (which is sometimes referred to in the region as "deputy sheriff"):

USAF B1s in Australia? What next... USN ballistic missile submarines? 

Straits Times, May 16
Singapore was mentioned too... four LCSs would operate out of its naval base by 2020.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Take heed... advice from a compleat journalist.

Every once in a while, one comes across a great commencement address. I think Katie Couric's belongs in this class:

Here's a print version from ST's Recruit:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015

Kerry, Kerry, quite contrary...

So, Big John is going to Beijing. And he's going to carry a (big? small?) stick. And he's going to talk loudly. Whatever happened to "Talk softly and carry a big stick"?...

The Straits Times

John Kerry is about to talk very tough in Beijing over the South China Sea

Read more:

The US and China just raised the stakes in the South China Sea

Read more:

So now, the Chinese are bristling...

China cautions U.S. Navy on patrols in South China Sea

Incidentally, the US has been telling China -- a signatory to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) -- to abide by UNCLOS' territorial claim and dispute settlement regime. But, guess what, the US has yet to ratify UNCLOS:

The Straits Times
Mr Kerry will be very busy in Beijing. But what will he and the Chinese leaders really talk about behind closed doors out of range of the media's microphones? If he's good, he might even get a chance to meet the terracotta warriors in Xian, like India's Narendra Modi did...

Now that's a stony reception there! Cold hands too. Actually, Mr Modi was effusively received by his real-life Chinese hosts and he got to press the flesh. Warm flesh, that is.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Two US experts on China's rise...

I have always found Ian Bremmer's views insightful and thought-provoking, This one in ST's commentary page is no exception:

I found an online copy in


Harvard's Noah Feldman wrote this equally thought-provoking piece for Bloomberg: