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10th-May-2015 09:25 pm - Resolution I can adopt now
The average person is in the habit of saying, "The older I get"; and they thereby call the attention of the mind to the idea that they are getting older. In brief, they compel their mind to believe that they are getting older and older, and thereby direct the mind to produce more and more age. The true expression in this connection is, "The longer I live." This expression calls the mind's attention to the length of life, which will, in turn, tend to increase the power of that process in you that can prolong life.
SBS Inkigayo: Best background props

One thing I have to say about SBS Inkigayo music show is that their background props tend to stand out from the other music shows.  Pity they do not license their Youtube channel to Singapore though, probably due to them having a channel in our cable television network.  I remember when I was in Taiwan last year and I was surfing Youtube on my iPad and I could access the SBS channel, unlike in Singapore.



This is a powerful debut song, at the 1:40 minute mark, by a new 8 member girl group called Oh My Girl.  The drum beat is very cute and the song is so catchy with the English hook in the chorus, but this particular performance stands out.  They had a raised stage with some kind of "elevator" contraption with the appearance of a hot air balloon, allowing half of the members to slowly move towards the upper stage. Of course, they had plenty of background performers in the form of a military band at the ending part of the song, that really made me laugh but also impressed by the amount of money they must have spent for this particular comeback performance.

The member that stands out for me is their leader Hyojung.  She always has this smile on her face throughout the entire performance and her vocal abilities are also very impressive.  Will look forward to more songs from this group in the future!

Mnet Music Countdown: Solo view of individual members.



I realized recently that, another music network, Mnet, provides videos featuring a specific member of each group. Ahh, that is the power of competition and the variety it provides. If SBS is known for nice background props, Mnet can focus on such cam views instead. I can watch it and verify for myself that Hyojung is indeed smiling all the time! =)

MBC Music Core: Minimal lipsynching



MBC has always been known, to me since the early days of SES, Finkl and Baby Vox, for being one of the few to insist on singers singing live in their music performances.

With this new group, it was cute to hear Hyojung going out of breath in her solo lines at the ending part of the MBC performance. The kpop industry is generally known for hard work, the performers have to train for years sometimes before their debut, and given the way Hyojung kept jumping around for this song, it is certainly very understandable that the breathlessness happened! =)

I remember playing all those Nintendo games and had a blast going around in circles and not knowing what to do at all.



I still recall Super Samurai and their sick "3D" maze that you simply had no idea where to go around to find the exit unless you buy the book from some game shop which I managed to borrow from a friend of mine.

Nowadays, I realized kids no longer have the patience to do things like that. But to be fair, even when I play some of those games nowadays, I also have no patience to do what I used to do in when I was at their age.

And one interesting phenomenon, as shown in South Park, is that kids nowadays prefer to watch people play those games, instead of playing it themselves!

http://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2015/03/myth-about-a-great-singapore-leader/

The truth for many of us is that, once we form an opinion of anything or anyone, in this case about LKY, its pretty hard for any new information to change our mind. We are pretty much "addicted" to our own opinions and feelings.

Changing our minds is equivalent to admitting to ourselves that we were wrong from the beginning and that is pretty tough for most people. We prefer to attack different opinions, and for some of us, we may even attack the person sharing those opposing opinions. Until the cognitive dissonance is too huge from holding on to the perceived truth in our heads, then we will change our mind, but it will be a long drawn process.

To me, since holding on to our opinion is like an addiction, the addiction schema tells me one thing: If you hope to change someone's opinion, to minimize cost and maximize efficiency, you should wait until they come to the end of it themselves, until they themselves realized they have to change.

This is the same procedure when you want to help people who are addicted to alcohol, drugs or gambling. You cannot really help them until they have reached the end of themselves.



Source: My addiction schema was probably formed over a long time, but here are 2 contributors to this schema that I remember.



https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152823991769141&set=a.10150091175069141.280707.533614140&type=1&theater

Even though Roy is a socialist at heart and, being a libertarian, I don't see eye to eye with many of his arguments, however, his latest reflection on the contents of his talk made me reflect a bit on my own and came up with this response!  Let me archive it here!
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I guess there were no Singaporeans present in that talk you gave.

Think of it this way. Singapore prior to the late 90s, had only experienced one recession, the 1985 one.  Those years were indeed some great years in Singapore, that generated lots of good middle-income jobs for many of us.  As a Gen X Singaporean, I looked back at those pre 1997 years as some of the great years of being a Singaporean.

I recalled our former PM Goh Chok Tong even made a very interesting point that, in his 14 years of being PM from 1990 to 2004, he felt it was like the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, there were 7 years of plenty, followed by 7 years of famine.

After the late 90s, we have experienced one negative shock after another in close sucession: 1998 Asian Financial crisis, Dot-com bursting in 2001, Sars in 2003, and the 2009 subprime. Those were 4 shocks in an era of increasing globalization.

In the light of that, with the exception of 2009, being able to grow regularly through those shocks, no matter your political inclination, testify to some wise economic leaders out there in the PAP. 

To debunk your points that changing the PAP will necessary change the outcome of what has happened, think about the US of A.  Like us, USA was a great place during the 70s and 80s, with great middle-income jobs and lots of good benefits.  Their car industry in Detroit was a good example. 

Now, with the increasing globalization, those jobs are now largely gone, the Detroit car industry had basically gone to dust until the entire city had to declare bankrupt, and Americans have a much more uncertain life now.  They have no PAP to blame, but I guess maybe they can blame George W Bush or Obama? =)

Its the same with us Singaporeans now.  Its not the PAP's fault.  Globalization has changed the rules for all of us.  It brought us important benefits like smartphones and the Internet, but it has also made our lives more volatile.  That is the reality now no matter which political party ends up being in charge of Singapore.

18th-Mar-2015 04:10 pm - Matt Damon scene in Interstellar
Introduction

"Hmm that actor looks like Matt Damon!" Like many others, I was intrigued by his sudden appearance in the movie Interstellar. That particular scene really made me reflect on what it is like to be a human.

As a libertarian, when I heard him say, "Don't judge me, Cooper. You were never tested like I was. Few men have been," I felt a disturbance in the Force, since I often try to follow the maxim of "Avoid judging people, no matter what they do or what they say because you will never really understand the shoes they have been walking." It was this perspective that made me enjoy the TV drama, The Affair .

Matt Damon's role as the main antagonist

Matt Damon played the role of Dr Mann. This was a brilliant man, the brain behind the Lazarus scheme and like what Dr Brand said, none of them would be here if not for him. Interestingly, Dr Mann said something, before he pushed the main actor down the icy cliff, "I thought I was prepared to die but the truth is, I never really consider the possibility that I will end up in a planet that inhabitable!"

I guess he must have thought that as the most brilliant mind and the leader of the Lazarus mission, remember he was apparently the one that convinced all the rest to participate in this, he probably made all the calculations and was super confident that the planet that he picked to go would be THE planet for plan B.

When he landed on the ice planet, he realized immediately that this planet was not the one. After almost 20 plus years of living without hope and resisting the temptation to send the wrong info back to Earth, he finally gave in, probably due to extreme loneliness, witnessed how much he wept when he was finally awakened from his sleep by the 3 of them, which to me was really great acting by Matt Damon.



Here is what director Nolan said about Damon's motivation

As far as Mann’s motivations are concerned, Nolan views it as very cut-and-dry.
“It’s very straightforward: selfishness and cowardice,” he says. “It’s very human, and I love what Matt did with that; he found the reality of it. It’s the kind of sequence where you loathe the guy because he’s doing something that you feel you might wind up doing in a similar situation. It’s very logical, but the rationalization of it is extraordinary—the way he was able to rationalize his own cowardice into a positive thing. Loneliness and desperation will make us do crazy things.”

“He’s not exactly crazy,” Nolan says of Mann. “It’s weirdly logical, but appallingly selfish. The only outcome to the mission for him was [a colony]. I think, and it’s something we talked a lot about—and it’s something he says in the film—that there was no doubt in his mind that his was going to be the planet, his was going to be the mission. So whatever the risks, he felt very confident. And when he’s confronted by the bleak reality of just dying out there alone, it all starts to unravel.”

Conclusion

No matter how brilliant a mind, loneliness can definitely mess with your way of thinking. His reaction to seeing Cooper, to him pretty much talking the entire time, shows that he truly just didn't want to be alone anymore. Now he had someone to talk to, he was determined to execute Plan B on Edmund's planet. The way he justified his plan to kill Cooper showed me that he sincerely believed he was doing the right thing.

Its easy for movie viewers like myself to call him a coward but the more I think about it, the more I feel I can empathize with his decisions. Like what Dr Mann said in his scene, "Its impossible to program a fear of death in a robot". Likewise, a fear of loneliness must be the same, and that also made us unique as human beings.

http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/housing/story/bridging-social-divide-calls-more-hdb-flats-prime-land-minister-2015022

If the land for the Pinnacle could have been sold to a private developer at a higher price than what HDB bought it for, all the "winners" of that ballot would get a windfall gain since the price they will pay is below the true opportunity cost of that piece of land.

But this also means that the proceeds from that land sale would be lower, leading to a fall in our reserves, and hence a form of "cross subsidy" from all Singaporeans, to those who succeeded in that ballot.

17th-Mar-2015 07:57 am - On Donald Low's FB note

https://www.facebook.com/notes/donald-lows-fc/analyzing-budget-2015-properly/932894703411171?pnref=story

In the libertarian point of view, having the government finance social needs is actually the worst way to spend money. This is what Milton Friedman would say to "spend somebody else's money on somebody else". The government forces A to give them some money and then spent that money on B. You neither get social needs at the lowest cost, nor get the most benefits for your money.

In contrast, having social needs privately funded, I will give you the example of healthcare, whether is it using your Medisave or cash to spend on your healthcare, you will make sure you really get the best deal for your money, because you are "spending your own money on yourself".

Of course, as I review Budget 2015 and I clearly respect the economics background of Tharman, there is a middle ground which our govt took, a way to persuade and encourage rich Singaporeans to help the poorer Singaporeans without coercing them through taxes. That is the policy of granting tax relief to charitable contributions.

An individual contributing to charity is basically "spending his money on somebody else". He would have much greater incentive to monitor and make sure the charity is accountable in spending the money on the poor, than an average government social worker, who is placed in charge of distributing welfare funds, ever could.

When we complain, our brains release stress hormones that harm neural connections in areas used for problem solving and other cognitive functions. This also happens when we listen to someone else moan and groan. "It’s as bad as secondhand smoke,"
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http://www.fastcompany.com/3042951/how-to-be-a-success-at-everything/what-its-like-to-go-without-complaining-for-a-month

Definitely one of the resolutions I have adopted ever since I realized, last year, how even listening to someone complain about life, tend to release the hormone cortisol, that triggers the "Fight or flight" response in my brain.

Its like subjecting myself to a sudden lion that appears in my path during the caveman era, and immediately, my long term cognitive function is shut down and only short term functions remain to make me run as fast as possible away from the lion.

Moral of the story, if you are the average of the 5 people you hang around the most, be very careful which 5 you allow into your life! Avoid chronic complainers is a priority!

14th-Mar-2015 11:14 am - Great ending to 100 Season 2.


Interesting ending to 100 Season 2. If there is ever a rule about television and movies is this, "No killing of children on screen, no matter who the villain is!" So I can certainly understand why Clarke decided to leave.

Bellamy respected Clark's choice and let her go without doing much persuasion for her to stay. It made me smile because it reminded me of that scene in one of the X-men movie, where Rogue decided to leave the Mutant Academy and Wolverine also respected her choice after confirming with her that was what she wanted. Rogue ask something like, "Aren't you going to tell me to stay?"

Both scenes definitely reminded me about one major difference between guys and girls. Guys understand instinctively the context of a "Cave", and recognize that, many times, we need to solve our problems in our head, alone first, before emerging out of the cave. In the meantime, no point going into the cave to drag the person out before he is ready.

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