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The MCs said, "Then how do you guys share the profits?"  A Pink replied, "We even include our personal incomes and divide everything equally."

Interesting form of income redistribution following Exodus 16:18 "the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little."

Ex-ante, when the group of 6 members are being formed, no one can really tell who among them will earn the most.  Also, being in a group leads to the "Cheerleader effect", which means positive externalities reaped.

This agreement to divide the ex-post results equally seems to improve efficiency. 

Reminds me of how I often think that teachers in most schools would feel much less stressed if, at the start of the year, every teacher 1A3 and below, contribute some money into a common pot.  At the end of the year when ranking is confirmed, the ones with Ds will get to split the pot among themselves. 

In this way, the prisoner's dilemma effect of teachers competing to avoid the D grade would be far less stressful!

“But when you have a church culture where one man is absolutely central to everything the church does publicly, then it’s really difficult to draw that line between the church’s mission and the man’s mission, and money spent on the mission and money spent on the man.”

But the questions raised for the evangelical world may be even more significant. How much information do church members deserve to know about their church’s financial decisions?


Nice! One question that always interests me about NCC but is a hypothesis that is very difficult to prove. When Joseph Prince announced he is not taking pay from the church anymore, over the next few months/years, did the tithing amount fell in NCC while the offering amount rose simultaneously?

This means NCC churchgoers now wrote cheques directly to Joseph Prince in the offering envelopes, but at the same time, reduce their tithing to NCC. In economics, you can call this the "crowding-out effect"

Thus, such announcement does not really make a significant difference and may even affect NCC's usual way of allocating funds?
22nd-Feb-2014 07:46 pm - Park Ji Yoon is back!

Been a long time since I saw Park Ji Yoon perform, since adult ceremony in the early 2000s. That era was the lip synching era of kpop, I have to say I have never heard her singing adult ceremony with her real voice before. 

That was still her best song but here, she is crooning such a subliminally hypnotic song with all the Beep, what, and Vow.

2 things that I found enlightening from this speech:

1) Religion teaches you the same thing many times to get you to remember.
2) Religion uses very skilled orators to teach, hence you feel very good and even shout Amen, Praise the Lord, Hallelujah after every major point.

Obviously, I latched on these 2 points because my brain already has the neural network or schema call "New Creation Church". 

In that schema, NCC constantly repeat the grace message in every sermon, until non NCC Christians wonder why would it continue to attract so many of us year after year.  Also Joseph Prince is clearly a very charismatic speaker that so many people are great fans of him.

Repeating the same lesson 7 times or more

I then chuckle and thought back to schooling and education.  Why is it that students resist repeating the same points, being made to do the same worksheet 7 or more times?  How can I best convince them the wisdom of doing so as so many adults who go to NCC are so easily convinced until they are prepared to keep going NCC to hear the same grace message? 

My first impression is perhaps the way I phrase the above paragraph shed clues to solution.  Students are young, their brain are more wired up for emotions rather than for long term planning.  In short, they think more with their limbic system than their frontal lobes, since the latter only fully develop in adulthood. 

That is why there is this well known phrase in teaching that I always arm-chio to "Students do not care how much you know until they know how much you care."  That means, they are basically emotional beings.  They must like a teacher or feel that she cares for them, before they will learn something you teach 7 times. 

Adults who attend NCC and choose to stay there, for example, could be a self selected group who realized the importance of reinforcing the same message repeatedly until they move from thinking to feeling, and finally, to being.  Even though I am aware that some of them probably stay in NCC because they really like Prince and find him charming, I believe the majority are there by long term planning.

Skilled orators

When I teach economics, I make it a point often to drop remarks like, "Isn't this great?  Won't you be so happy that you can now see economics in the things you read?  Your parents will be so glad you are learning so much economics that you can discuss the news with them!" 

When I do that, I always get expressionless stares with some students occasionally arm-chioing.  No one has, to date, stood up and fist pump and shout "Hallelujah for the free market!  Praise Adam Smith and Milton Friedman!"  Haha, but people are obviously excited to hear Joseph Prince and they will say "Amen" throughout many times.  Why is this the case?

One reason is definitely that few teachers are as good looking or as charismatic speakers as Prince.  The economist in me immediately went back to the "competition vs monopoly" schema for the explanation.  It is quite obvious to me that Prince is one of those senior pastors that could only arise because our current church market structure is one that is extremely competitive, with very little barriers to entry. 

Furthermore, I see the tithe, where Christians decide which church to tithe based on where they feel comfortable at, is probably a very powerful incentive to make church "compete" for them. This is probably similar to the kind of voucher scheme that has been proposed by Milton Friedman for schools, where parents decide which school to enroll their kids to by using the voucher.

Thus, with this tithe system serving as a voucher, churches that are good will grow big, as they attract more Christians and their 10% tithe, and churches who are not so good, will remain small.  Anyone can start a new church if they feel that the current church they are in is not fulfilling their needs.  That was how Lawrence Khong of FCBC came about, and probably also the same manner in which Kong Hee of CHC and Prince of NCC originated.

On the other hand, education in Singapore is largely a monopoly market structure.  That makes it very difficult for the same things to happen in the education sector.  To see an example, if there was a Ministry of Religion who is in charge of training all pastors.  If this Ministry decide that you are to go to a church that is nearest to your house, or where your brother is already in or where your parents went when they were young.  Under these conditions, I am very confident that a person like Joseph Prince or NCC would not have emerged.


Alain De Botton is such a great speaker with so much insights that I can relate to.  I also like the way he links love and art in another speech.  A book is meaningful if I read it and the author manages to express thoughts, emotions and feeling, that I already know and are deeply mine, but it is in a mess and hence I am not able to see and understand clearly until I read that book.  In that sense, it is the same as love and relationships.  When someone say something to you and you understand yourself better as a result. That is when you feel less alone, and the emotions and feelings allow you to easily fall in love with that person.

Joe Dispenza has a similar point about this in the 2nd minute below, when he said that when you meet someone new and you converse, you are basically comparing neural networks.  For example, you went to NUS?  I went to NUS too!  You studied under Professor Tan Ah Kow?  Me too!  I found him to have this weird habit that always makes me laugh, you feel the same way too!  Then you find yourself being attracted to this person basically because she reinforced the same emotions that you have, and reinforced the same neural nets.

This explains why it is harder for you to be attracted to people that are very different from you in various ways because both of you will have very different life experiences.  The more both of you are different in life experiences, the harder it will be for your neural network to match each other, and hence you won't share the same emotions with them, and its these emotions that is responsible for people falling in love.  You will find that when she talks to you, you are bored because you cannot relate to the things she say, and when you say various things to her, you are also bored because she also cannot follow up on what you say.

In that sense, Alain De Botton and Joe Dispenza, and of course Joseph Prince, appeal to me because they say things that make me feel I understand myself better.  =)

What does Joseph Prince and other Word of Faith preachers mean when they say, "Right believing produces right living?"  Every morning when I wake up and I declare that I am greatly blessed, highly favored and deeply loved, what exactly am I trying to accomplish?

In Evolve your Brain, Joe Dispenza is making a distinction between explicit and implicit memory.  Every time I declare those things, I am mainly using my conscious mind, or the frontal lobe, which is in the neocortex.  In the Christian sense, the brain belongs to the soul part of the body, which we are urged to keep renewing.

After many times of believing and then speaking, which is what faith is as defined by 2 Cor 4:13, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit which is living in my Spirit, it will come to a stage where the memory becomes implicit.  This is the same hardwiring that happened to me regarding the "drenched in the bus-stop" scenario.  These are also termed non-declarative or implicit memories, because they are abilities that I no longer necessarily need to declare, but a behavior that I repeatedly demonstrate without much conscious effort or will.

Through the mind's ability to repeat or reproduce an experience at will, the mind has thought about, rehearsed, and planned so well that when the mind instructs the body to perform a task, the body now has an implicit memory of how to do it, and no longer needs the conscious mind.  In this sense, my body is now aligned with my renewed and prosperous mind, and like what Creflo Dollar would say, my trinity is complete, Spirit-Soul-Body now works as one, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  That is how "Right believing produces right living" 
3rd-Oct-2013 01:55 pm - Why is it so hard to change?

Yesterday when I was walking to my workplace after I got off the bus, there was a huge amount of trapped water along the path I was walking and looking ahead, I could see that cars driving past me were splashing water along that path.  I tried to move quickly but unfortunately, I could not avoid a car that splash water until I was drenched.

Of course, when that happened, I felt sian.  I was wearing a black shirt two days ago but I chose to wear my light pink shirt yesterday and I thought, "How come this did not happen yesterday which would be better. Why so suay today? And why was I so stupid not to just alight at the bus stop ahead, so that I can get to my workplace without being drenched, even though I would have walked a longer distance?" 

Nevertheless, after a short while, I could feel my optimism naturally kicked in with very positive thoughts.  It was almost like a chatter in my brain that says things like, "My shirt does not look stained, it is just wet.  I am so glad I am not a girl because if the same thing happen, it would be so awkward for my modesty if I was drenched like that.

So I start to confess that I am happy, this is no worry, I shall not let this external stimuli affect my mood and very quickly, I was fine on the inside. 

From what Joe is saying above, its like my hypothalamus acting as a thermostat. After my body recognized that a wave of negativity is sweeping it, it immediately sends a signal to my brain that says, "Hey, we are feeling very negative here and it is not what I am used to. Quick, find any possible angle in the situation that can generate positive thoughts!" And my brain respond with all those sub-vocalizations and chatter.

So why change is difficult

With that experience, I begin to understand better what Joe Dispenza is saying in this book, "Evolve your Brain", summed up in this video.  I chuckle and I ask myself, "If being optimistic is bad and I am trying to change myself into a more negative person now, it would be very difficult because my brain only need to think positive and my body will immediately know how to react, since it has been conditioned for so many years to always look at the bright side."

Like I have explained above, those positive thoughts came to my mind automatically without even me being conscious about the process. If I wanted to change to a negative person, I have to exercise my frontal lobe and keep thinking negatively and that requires a very active process to overcome all those automatic positive thoughts. My body will keep protesting all those conscious negative thoughts and I will have to keep actively thinking of negative thoughts.

The analogy I have read somewhere else, when you are trying to eliminate any habits, is like this, the frontal lobe is like the human rider, and the body is like the elephant. If the elephant has been trained to move a certain direction and the rider is trying to get the elephant to move in a different direction, it will be very difficult and the human rider has to keep manipulating the rope and keep on doing it until the elephant finally move in the direction the rider wants it to.

Application to relationships

Upon further reflection, I begin to chuckle and felt I now understood much better why it is very hard for me to be emotionally close to negatively oriented people. According to Joe, it is because my neural networks don't match those from pessimists. In that sense, we are all addicts in one way or another, even if it is not about the usual suspects of alcohol and drugs. Optimists have neural networks that are addicted to positive feelings while pessimists have networks that are addicted to negative feelings.

As a side note, I am addicted to talking about economics to any group of listeners, either because they are willing or, more likely, they are forced to listen because they think they will be tested on that in the future, is because every time I talk about it, dopamine fires in my brain and I get very positive feelings after that.

Thus when someone who is a pessimist tries to share all those negative feelings, she is perhaps expecting me to reinforce them through empathy and perhaps I should feel negative too so that I am reflecting those same negative feelings back at her. But here I am, after hearing those negative feelings, my mind immediately works automatically, without me thinking, to change those negative feelings into positive, and keep telling her the various ways to view any given bad situation positively, and she goes, "What the hell are you doing?"

Often I will be accused of not really listening. I have to admit there might be some truth to that, but I wish such people would understand that it is very difficult for me to be negative for more than a few seconds. I have yet to master the art of "listening intently to someone complaining about life and yet not be negatively affected inside".

But because of my lack of mastery, I cannot turn off my hypothalamus, I cannot stop my brain from not automatically seeing the positive angle from any sad event. I don't want to dwell on negative thoughts. Perhaps I should instead say, "I am not willing to change this aspect of me at this present time" =)


But this reminds me one important lesson of neuroplasticity, to change is very difficult.  I must really master the skill of observation and mentally rehearse myself being the ideal self, so that my body will eventually learn to fit that image. In the meantime, let me follow the "Word of Faith" prescription of "believe and therefore speak!" and trust in the Lord for his unmerited favor in order to change.
As usual, once you start to like a group, when you go back to their older songs, you see them from a new perspective.  I started with Wild and now going back to Dolls, I see another aspect of them.  This time, I begin to notice Hyuna and her powerful voice. 

In Wild, it was not easy to notice her as her singing lines are only towards the end of the song.  In Dolls, she was the main singer, starting the song, as well as revealing her extremely powerful vocal ability in the 2nd verse last line, before the chorus kicks in.  With her height and her confidence, I can imagine her to be somewhat intimidating to stand next to haha.

Overall this Nine Muses is definitely a group worth listening to from now on! I did download this video in TS format sometime back but as it is not very catchy, I took no notice of it after the first 15 secs of viewing. Of course, once I realized how catchy Wild was, it was much easier to go back and appreciate this song.
28th-Jun-2013 09:13 pm - First time I notice Dasom in Sistar!

I have never really got into songs from Sistar.  Okay, I do note that they have very healthy bodies unlike the usual "skinny" kpop groups and they clearly are good singing live, due to Hyorin's status as probably the best current singer in kpop world.

However, I have to say that this song has made me finally realized who Dasom is in Sistar.  Wow, it was probably her long hair this time round since I don't recall her having long hair in previous songs, and I realized her fair white skin contrasted very well with Hyorin's tan. 

She has only a minor part in the middle part of this song, with that hat prop. However, that long hair of hers, the bangs, plus that soft voice, made me think, "Who the hell is this from Sistar that I have never noticed before in the past?" =) Now, if I ever watch performances of this song, it will be because of her haha.
16th-Jun-2013 11:24 pm - 9 Muses Wild is addictive

Can't believe I missed out this song when I was reviewing May comeback performances among all the girl groups recently.  This song is so catchy that I liked it immediately when I chance across it recently.  I occasionally hear of this particular group in the past but their songs have never really stuck with me until Wild.  Does this group passed my key "no lip synching" criteria? Well, to be honest, I cannot really tell whether they lip synch or not as yet, a bit like 50% of the time, I can roughly tell they are singing live but I guess I will give them the benefit of the doubt for now. 

Just like SNSD, they have 9 members but they are clearly a more mature group.  In fact when I was watching their Wild performances, I keep thinking that this kind of song is what Rainbow should be doing at this time instead of all the cutesy song that they are doing now. Sunshine is fine but it is so bubble gum and a waste for someone with the maturity and figure of Jaekyung heh.

Going back to my previous kpop entry, I am certainly glad to see that 4 minute did so well for "What's your name", which kind of justified my judgement of the song being the best. As for Hello Venus, I was disappointed by their boring dressing which hardly changed among all their performances of "Do you want some tea?", in contrast to all their changes they had during their previous song,"What are you doing today"? In this aspect, seeing Wild and 9 muses's frequent changes in dressing was very refreshing heh.
5th-May-2013 07:18 pm - So many nice comebacks for kpop now!
After Rainbow "Tell me Tell me" ended, I was watching Girls' Day "Expectation" for a while but I didn't really got into that.  So I am glad that this time round, there were some groups that I was more familiar with, that were releasing new songs.

4 Minute

What took me by surprise was that, out of these groups, 4 minute "What's your name" proved to be the most catchy song.  Like many guys, I was only aware of Hyuna thanks to "bubble pop" and I saw 4 minute more like "Hyuna and her backup dancers".  But this was an amazingly fun song to listen to and through this song, I started noticing more of the other members and see their talents, for example, I now know that Sohyun is their youngest member (maknae) and she really dance very well in this performance in her purple top. They also sing live too which was commendable. I think the SBS Inkigayo show had their best performance as well as the best props so far but since they do not have a channel, I shall be using mainly MBC and Mnet ones.

The dance steps are not complicated and so far, I have been listening to this the most and enjoying it very much.

Hello Venus

The next best song would be from Hello Venus.  I really enjoyed their extremely catchy "What are you doing today" and it was easy to see that their leader Ara, bears a strikingly resemblance, depending on the angle, either to SNSD Yuri or Seohyun, that made me noticed that particular group.  Their new song "Do you want some tea" is a typical "feel good" song, like Vitamin C's graduation song but it is still pretty catchy. It was only later that I realized that it actually sampled the classic tune of "Variation on the Kanon", no wonder I sense a familiarity in this Hello Venus song. I recalled shedding tears when I watched that Taiwan Drama "At the Dolphin Bay" whenever that tune came out years back haha.

What I really appreciate is that this group takes effort to sing live and like I said many times, once you do, I am definitely willing to give you some respect.

Tara N4

And to further elaborate on that last sentence, I was quite pleased that this subgroup from Tara appears to be singing live more in their debut song.  I mean, Tara was one of those groups whom I judged to be excessively lipsynching. I mean, the lipsynching was so extreme that, even after Areum took over from one of the member who had to leave, whom I forgotten the name, even when they performed Lovey Dovey and others, I could still hear that departed member's voice in the rap. 

So I was quite pleased to hear their real voices in the comeback performances.  I think it is also because in Tara, Boram is clearly the weakest singer so I guess, with her not being part of this subgroup, they can now showcase their vocals. 

This song, especially the verses, also reminded me of Kara's Japanese song "Electric Boy" but I guess it was only a slight resemblance so no biggie. I would put this song as my third best.


Thus, I have to say Secret's comeback song was the weakest this time around.  I thought they have moved away from cutesy songs towards more matured songs like Poison and Talk that. This current song is like a throwback to their Shy Boy and Starlight Moonlight days.

They have very good voices, they have excellent figures and to have this cute song seems a mismatch but well what do I know.  To make matters worse, I felt Ji Eun's hairstyle when she had to tie her hair was so eeee.  Let's hope eventually she will be allowed to "let her hair down" for future performances haha.


Glad to see the tough competition in kpop has given us so many different groups and their different genre of songs.  SNSD is clearly getting old now, Jessica recently turned 25, so I think its time for them to tone down and let new groups take over the kpop scene =). 
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