Making Light of Things

June 2006 Archives

What a Trooper

Thank you, thank you, thank you. For all the text messages, instant messages over MSN / ICQ / Yahoo and blog comments. I’m not lying when I say I almost lost my mind on the way to the hospital.

All I knew then was her hand was quite badly injured, and all these questions fill my mind. What if she can’t use her hand? How is she going to heal, knowing how much she likes to hit / throw / swing stuff around? A million questions a minute, all waiting to be resolved when I finally see her before she goes under general anesthetic and gets stitched up.

I’ll be honest and admit that who to blame and what to blame whomever for was quite at the forefront of my train of thought. I didn’t know if I could forgive fast enough, or if I’d say something I’d regret later on when I got to the scene.

The first thing I saw when I got to the scene was

Still waving

Anne was walking around the whole emergency department, waving her good hand at whoever she met. The first word that came to mind was “undaunted”. At 14 months, this girl was showing more spirit than I’ve possessed in a long time.

She’d even wave her bandaged hand.

Anne waving her bandaged hand

It was really unsettling to see her receive the anesthesia and go all glassy-eyed and limp. It was so scary to see all her energy, vibrance and fire tamed into an unnatural docility. Faith and I left the treatment room. I wasn’t sure if I could take much more of seeing my girl lying there motionless with her eyes still open. The visual enactment of a primal unspoken fear was too real.

Here’s Anne after getting her stitches, now sleeping from the effects of the anesthesia.

Anne sleeping after getting her stitches

We’re home. Anne’s sleeping. And we don’t know how to get her to drink the horrible tasting antibiotics she’s supposed to take.

Barely Breathing

Ai just called to tell me that Anne’s hand got caught as the elevator doors were opening. They’re now heading to the Accident and Emergency department at KK hospital as it might need stitches.

I’m hardly functioning right now.

The Case for Immediacy

Attended last night’s E27. It was nice to see that there is a growing surge of energy in the younger geeks, even in pragmatic Singapore. Among the presentations were, XShare and RSSFwd. For me the main discourse of the night was spurred on by the question and answer session after Xshare’s presentation.

XShare is a mobile phone application that allows you to share photos, ringtones, data files, or publish your photos unto your own repository, most notably Flickr. At some point in the presentation, Anoj (the presenter) said jokingly that it enabled you to share all your “crap”.It works on a subscription model, where users pay a nominal fee per month. The question raised by the member of the audience was this: Why would people bother sharing photos on impulse, when they can come home, download it unto their computers, and publish it there for free? It’s all “crap” anyway.

Immediacy (brought up by the member of the audience as “impulse”) is a commodity that is fast gaining value in our society. People are turning to blogs as an alternative news source primarily because of its immediacy, not its quality, though in a few cases the quality of blog posts surpasses that of the traditional media outlets. Immediacy is also the reason why people subscribe to the football channel at an extra cost. You could wait till the morning to catch the highlights, but living in the moment has become the catch-phrase of our time.

Other notable quotes:

Lionel Yeo, on the Singapore Government’s skepticism of open-source software:

“Cheap is ok, but free is no good”

Nickpan on my job as a webmaster:

“They should call it web-slave”

Civil Savant

Professor Tommy Koh giving out nametags at the registration table

Professor Tommy Koh giving out nametags at the registration table

I simply had to take a photo of this at the IPS Elections Forum. Most big shots would be shaking hands with the “important” people, but here was Professor Tommy Koh dishing out nametags (and shaking hands) to whoever was next in line, regardless of whether you were renowed or unknown.

Tim Tam II

Nokia’s advertisement looks like the precursor to more NYP-esque videos. Maybe Singaporeans can enlighten these western folk on the ramifications of putting your life on your phone.


Relationship tip: Make housework fun.

Saturday afternoons are great for naps. While Faith was sleeping, I snuck out of bed and mopped the floor. When she wakes up in a while, she’ll probably throw a mini-fit because it was something she said she’d do.

There’s something oddly motivating about doing things, even housework, when you’re not supposed to.

The RIAA Says No Dancing To Music On YouTube

The RIAA needs to shove it.

Continue reading The RIAA Says No Dancing To Music On YouTube »

Model Analysis on Football

Claudia Schiffer's Analysis on the World Cup

Ok, I know she’s German, but don’t they have more qualified football experts?

Tomorrow's Imperfect Democracy

BlinkyMummy writes an arguably humourous post about how editors refuse to publish her content on the Singapore blog aggregator. Of course, to quell such allegations and to add a tinge of irony, the editors publish her complaint.

Now I’m going to assume she was being somewhat serious, because hiding behind humour and then saying you didn’t really mean it provides some form of protection from being made the next Singapore exile / bankrupt / bad guy.

First of all, I think it is unfair to expect to be a perfect democracy, where everybody gets everything they want. Though I haven’t lived on this fair earth long enough to see kingdoms tumble and civilisations being built, I’m pretty sure there is no such thing. And simply doesn’t set out to be one.

Let’s look at the model here: Lots of members and a few editors. Members submit links, editors approve links they think are interesting. Editors are in positions of power. Yes they abuse them. editor Agagooga commented in Blinkmummy’s post that

10) Brazenly insulting/challenging editors is not the best way to get your post published. And then you wonder why things don’t get published.

And this isn’t the first time we’ve heard this. But I’m not going to blow this point up out of proportion either. The editors were appointed to exercise certain powers, and the very act would be misconstrued as abuse by some and wisdom by others.

At the end of the day, it’s just a few hits. Temporary fame. You want to be the next Heather Armstrong or Jason Kottke? Write well, write consistently, know your audience and work hard.

The Olympus �720SW

Waterproof, shockproof, 7 megapixels. Compact cameras go rugged. A lot of underwater photos on flickr ensues.

Continue reading The Olympus �720SW »

Apple's iPod countersuit against Creative opens legal hornet's nest

Much as I hate to see Creative gone, they really need to stop wasting their resources on legal battles and get the show going with portable video.

Continue reading Apple's iPod countersuit against Creative opens legal hornet's nest »

Whose line is it anyway

Anne is quite ill. She has been for a couple of days.

When Tolkien wrote about elves, and how immortal as they were, they were vulerable to grief, some even dying from it. He must have meant to describe a sick child’s cry, because there is no sound that rends the heart more deeply. It is the tearing up of your insides in what feels like an infinite loop.

Just when Anne almost collapses from the exhaustion of crying, she coughs herself awake and the crying starts anew. Then there’s the violent coughing that results in her throwing up. She doesn’t speak yet but every fibre of your being knows she is in pain.

And my reaction is to blame everyone for it. To the elderly aunties in church who might have passed her the virus, to the numerous children she meets at the playground who may have coughed in her presence. To the doctor, who said that she was fine but she clearly isn’t. To all our parents who take care of her during the day who may not have washed their hands after coughing in them, and the damn weather for being as hot as it is, to God who could stop all this suffering in an instant but chooses not to. To Faith, who being inexperienced at parenting, may have handled the whole sickness thing wrongly. And ultimately me, for being as powerless as I am, unable to do anything but blame everyone for everything that has ever happened.

It is anyone’s fault but Anne’s. It is everyone’s fault but Anne’s. She did nothing to deserve this.

Then she falls asleep, almost as soon as my mind was about to go into round 2 of the blame game. The ingrate in me wonders how long it will be before she coughs, but she doesn’t. Somehow I’m too proud to thank God for the reprieve from a situation that need not have ever been.

The last two nights have shown me how small I am - in two senses of the word. Small - as in powerless to affect even the smallest of change in the smallest of persons; and small - as in petty and selfish. I do not know where I stand upon this crossroad, or where choosing to depend upon God will lead. Or if it’d change the utterly shallow faith I have.

I’m just glad she’s asleep.

Thank God. I hope to mean it more than a cry of relief from exasperation. But it probably isn’t very much more, little man that I am.

Why Web 2.0 will end your privacy

Because privacy is the currency with which you pay to use free web services.

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Citizen Journalism and the 2006 Elections

The Internet and Elections Study

Citizen Journalism

Defined in this study, citizen journalism:

Continue reading Citizen Journalism and the 2006 Elections »

The Changing Nature of Politics in Singapore

Points from Speech by Dr Terence Chong, Fellow, Regional Social and Cultural Studies, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies

Wooing of young voters not limited to Singapore, it is done worldwide. There are certain local characteristics as well. Reasons why wooing the young vote is in:

It is hard to see them as a coherent and cohesive group, but there are some similarities. They openly acknowledge that the PAP is doing a good job, but believe that a multi-party state is necessary for democracy. They want real political choice.

The recent elections have shown that they still vote based on bread and butter issues. This shows that the shift towards a post-material society may not be fully fledged. The PAP needs to move from a heavy-handed approach to a lighter approach if it wants to appeal to the younger voters.

The Future of the Parties

Sylvia Lim was introduced and received applause. Dr Gillian Koh, who was introducing the speakers, then said that the applause was because she was the NCMP, “the best loser”. You begin to understand why some people stick to their scripts.

Points from Speech by Dr Derek da Cunha, Independent Scholar

After 11 years and 3 elections later, Chiam See Tong established the Singapore Democratic Party as the leading opposition party. Chee Soon Juan, after having ousted Chiam, has successfully brought it back to square one, “or as some say, behind square one”.

According to Derek, PAP: centre-right of the political spectrum, WP and SDA are on the centre-left while SDP is flush left. One can see the SDA and WP cooperation during the next election to avoid a three cornered fight. Due to the law of large numbers, it is virtually impossible for the opposition parties to win a GRC.

The opposition needs to hotly contest several GRCs, rather than concentrating on just one. This would involve fielding several A-teams - teams of their best and brightest. It is a mammoth logiistical task.

Continue reading The Future of the Parties »

"Electoral Authoritarianism" No More? The future of the political system in Singapore

Note: Speakers are speaking out of their own capacity and not representative of the views held by their employers.

Points from Speech by Mr Janadas Devan, Senior Writer, The Straits Times

There is an attitude of resigned realism.

Singapore had elections way before South Korea and Taiwan, but now they are seen to be more democratic than us. If there is a evolution of democracy, shouldn’t Singapore be the most advanced democracy amongst its neighbours?

The PAP wasn’t always as dominant as it is now. But in the course of history the communist left was decimated and the PAP was the only party left standing. PAP’s rule at that time had to be established through democratic means - the diverse immigrant workforce would not have accepted the PAP’s lead if it were established any other way.

An escape from material oppression throughout the region is often the driving force for political upheaval. The overthrow of Suharto happened because the citizens attributed their poverty to a lack of an established democracy. Even the American revolution was spurred on by people who didn’t want to be taxed without having been properly represented in office.

Why aren’t we the most democratic society in the region? “The Singapore Government is too damn good.” They have delivered.

Continue reading "Electoral Authoritarianism" No More? The future of the political system in Singapore »

The IPS Post-Election Survey

Mr Arun Mahazhnan, Deputy Director at the Institute of Policy Studies chairs the session.

Dr Gillian Koh presents the findings: What voters want.

The usual assertions are that the Singaporean voter is pragmatic, that bread and butter issue trumps all. That post-65ers are mostly liberal.

The burning questions:

The survey took a sample of 985 adults. There was a problem finding 21-34 year olds with monthly incomes lower than $2000.

Findings: Issues

The cost of living, job situation and upgrading were not issues of primary concern. When asked to list what the issues were, the participants listed the need for eddicient government, fairness of government policy, need for checks and balances in Parliament, need for different views in Parliament and the personality of candidates as the most important issues.

There was universal appeal for an efficient government, whiel tthe need for fairness in government policy was listed most by the 30-39 year olds in middle income brackets, with no significant difference among ethnic groups.

Continue reading The IPS Post-Election Survey »

Prof Tommy Koh's Welcome Remarks

Live blogging from the Institute of Policy Studies’ Post-Election Forum. These are my views, sometimes writing down what is currently being said. It’s a bad mishmash and not to be quoted without first obtaining the actual footage or transcripts, reading / hearing it for yourself, and making up your own mind.

Professor Tommy Koh was giving out nametags at the beginning of the forum. A great example of a high level civil servant who does not fear to get his feet wet. I like.

In his welcoming remarks, Prof Koh lists many question which are very pertinent to what the Singapore people really want to know. For example, why didn’t the involvement of popular Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong in Potong Pasir and Hougang make a difference? Did it backfire? And he also mentioned his puzzlement at the Gomez incident. He does qualify, however, that these are questions and not his views. “Is the drawing of electoral boundaries a disease we cannot get rid of?” But he maintains that this is prevalent in many countries, not just limited to Singapore.

Prof Koh balances out the questions with a list of qualities Singapore possesses:

Highbrows Online and Off

Some informal thoughts on PR Academy’s conference on New Media: The New Frontier In Communications And PR while I compile my notes on what the speakers covered.

It was a meeting of traditional media practitioners and new media practitioners. Journalists and bloggers. Though some of the more enlightened argued that the dichotomy between old media and new media didn’t really exist, it was quite evident there was a clear divide. There were whispers of war.

I twice overheard traditional media people telling each other that most stuff on the blogosphere was trash. Then Margaret Thomas from Mediacorp said it out loud on stage. Miyagi came across (to me) as rather snide when he told Margaret that Straits Times Interactive was digging its own grave by charging a subscription fee. A few hours later, a blogger who was at the conference wrote about how she had to refrain from rolling her eyes or giggling when the traditional media folk didn’t seem to know what RSS was.

They (traditional media folk) laugh at us and label us as infantile, while we laugh that they seem so slow on the uptake when it comes to technologies millions use on a daily basis.

But we have to see that both camps need each other.

Read the rest of it on

Gray. Dorian.

I was at a seminar on public relations and “new media” today. (I’ll cover the material on WebSG soon, I promise). While Mr Brown and Mr Miyagi were up there talking about blogs and the other speakers briefly mentioned social bookmarking, I experienced the real life manifestation of hyperlinks.

Aileen, who was sitting someplace else in the conference hall, called me over. “This guy wants to speak to you”. Being surrounded by what had to be a sizable portion of Singapore’s civil servants, I half expected “this guy” to tell me how bad a job I did updating MOE’s website.

But his first line was “You don’t know me, but I read your blog”. We did the usual blogger introduction. You know, shake hands, exchange names, blog addresses, then I’d proceed to tell him what went on in his life for the past 48 hours and he’d do the same. Standard blogger etiquette.

Then he asked the question I knew was coming, and dreaded.

“Why haven’t you updated your blog for so long?”

I smiled and told him I’d blog about why. I didn’t answer the question right there; perhaps it was because it was a long story and we didn’t have much time, or perhaps I didn’t come up with a reason fast enough. I guess the real reason was that I’ve been blogging for so long it felt a little too invasive answering a personal question face-to-face with a real flesh and blood human being, while feeling perfectly at home (pun intended) answering it to a thousand readers whom I cannot see.

Continue reading Gray. Dorian. »

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