Sweet Exchange

Picnic at Changi Beach

Sometimes Often, I read stuff in the papers that makes my eyes roll. On Saturday, I came across yet another example. (I’ve quoted the relevant bit.)

Making friends or making out?

In one game, female students were made to exchange sweets with male students using their mouths as they sat in a circle.

Oh no, the end of civilisation is near. This type of thing has never happened before. Now, our youths are going to become decadent degenerates.

Let’s take a step back and consider this:

If you have had a good upbringing, are such games going to unleash a torrent of horniness in you?

If the games can induce such behaviour, I suggest that it is the youths’ parents who are at fault.

Anyway, all this is not new. Maybe our parents, aunties or uncles might have played this game in their youth.

I don’t think they turned out for the worse.

Screenshot from Phillip Chew’s blog.


I hate Math, but I am open to persuasion

Learning maths contextualize as a teenage girl's diary

If the lady above looks sort of familiar, she’s the actress who played Winnie Cooper in The Wonder Years.

I was aware she is some sort of maths whiz, but I didn’t know she had a book out.

The question is, who is going to buy her book? *scratch chin* Definitely not Singaporean students. “Fractions, decimals and percents”? Our primary school students eat those (unfortunately) for recess. Perhaps I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

While I have no idea what’s in the book, maybe something like this would have gotten me interested in mathematics. Sine, cosine, tangent, what? Differentiation? Integration? Proving this equals that?

Could never see how it was applicable in my life, and I still wonder how knowing (or at least, trying to know) all that helped me. The exception was statistics, which was mildly intriguing and probably the only reason I didn’t fail both O and A Level Mathematics.

Thanks, Kevin – incidentally, the male lead character’s name in The Wonder Years – for this (reminder of Danica McKellar, not Mathematics) little blast from the past. =)

Original photo by Kevin Lim, from here, reproduced under a cc by-nc-sa 2.0 license.

New customer service paradigm

I'm Chokin My X-Servrz Opr8rz (by libraryman)

On the bus this morning, I remembered reading about customer service in yesterday’s ST. The main thrust of the article was that Singaporeans love to bitch and moan about things in private, both online and offline. Not many want to make a stand by sending in an official complaint or take their grievances up to CASE.

Must a complaint be sent through official channels before it is acted upon?

No doubt most blog owners consider their blogs their own personal sphere. Those really paranoid about privacy will have totally private blogs. The rest are at least vaguely aware that anything they say there can be surfaced elsewhere. It’s probably a “it’ll never happen to my blog ‘cos I don’t say anything of public consequence” mentality. So, those who complain on their blogs never expect anything to be done about it.

This is an opportunity to surprise customers!

There are many tools to track mentions of your product/service(s). Google Alerts is a good place to start. Subscribe you your company’s name or some other relevant terms. Let the complaints and compliments – bloggers do give praise when its warranted – go straight to your inbox.

The rest, as SDU once (in)famously proclaimed, is up to you. =)

Do note, if your product/service name is too generic, trying to track online mentions might be tricky.

Photo by Michael Porter, from here,
reproduced under a CC by-nc-sa 2.0 licence.

The Fugitive – Singapore Style

The Fugitive - Singapore Style

Ok, I know everyone is more up to date with their Prison Break/Toilet Break witticisms regarding one Mas Selamat Kastari. I have been quietly observing what’s gone on and reading what’s been written the past week. So far, it has been one cock-up after another.

Unlike some articles in the Straits Times and letters from the public to the same paper, I believe we can stop patting ourselves on the back for banding together during this calamitous period. We should also be questioning the actions being taken and the statements being made, right here, right now, rather than have this “let’s concentrate on what is important – bringing him back into custody – rather than apportioning blame at the moment” sentiment.

I’ve had this niggling suspicion that all is not right. You see, the incompetence and lack of urgency that led to MSK’s escape, is going to help him stay on the loose. Today, I read in the papers what I think is the final straw.

Assistant Commissioner (AC) Wong said it was not made public earlier as the authorities needed to ascertain what Mas Selamat had with him when he fled.

Also, they did not want the public to have the ‘fixation’ with a particular attire as the fugitive could have already changed his clothes.

‘We believe he had all these items with him…but by now, he would be able to change into any attire,’ he said.

So, let’s recap:

  • Four hours before alerting the public when early information could have helped. (We still have not been told how long it was between his escape and the time the staff at the detention centre realised he escaped.)
  • A day or two before a proper description was available. (Flyers with his photo were pasted all over the place but did not have information about height and build.*)
  • And after a few more days, a clarification that his supposed limp is only visible when he is walking fast or running.
  • Finally, after a week, we know what he was wearing. Was being the operative word.

Does one week strike anyone as being an extremely long time to be absolutely sure about what he was wearing when he escaped? Doesn’t this detention centre have CCTVs? Don’t the guards have their eyes peeled?

If I am being unreasonable or nonsensical, please let me know because I am not anonymous, nor do I think I have crossed the line of morality and decency.

Blogging louts: BLOGGERS are having a field day. What is despicable is that some bloggers who take refuge under the cloak of anonymity or pseudonymity have crossed the line of morality and decency – Lionel De Souza in yesterday’s ST Forum.

The reason we are having a ‘field day’ is that there are so many questions and so few answers. The people want some real accountability. Not some petty claptrap argument alluding that pseudonymous criticism should be invalid.

UPDATE *Spotted new flyers during lunch, stating his height in bold. Older flyers with the limp information (pun intended) in bold are still to be found around though.

Leadership by example

It is not a pay cut.

It may not have any real impact on the economy.

It might just be a token move to score points with the people.

But at least Australian PM Kevin Rudd isn’t trying to justify ever-increasing world-leading remuneration for him and his colleagues in parliament while telling people to cut costs by buying no-frills home brand stuff in the face of increasing costs of everything under the sun.

We just want a small iota to indicate that our gahmen cares about its people. That they are not just serving their own needs. Then again, whatever they do, it will never be enough.

That’s the irony of our country. We have been thoroughly drilled with the idea that what we have is never enough. It is our prime motivation. It is what keeps our economy ticking. The obssession with money and economic prosperity is what made Singapore the country it is today, for better or worse.

Two Richards

Complaints. We are famous for making them. We even sing songs of complaints (w/o foreign input).

It is with interest that I read two contrasting complaints, both by men named Richard, in ST on Saturday. Let me deal with the one that had me going “ST has space to print this?”

Channel logo leaves its mark on plasma TV

IN THIS age of advanced technology we can still get TV burn-in, a shadowy image left permanently on the screen, depending on how long the image stays stationary on the screen.

I bought a Toshiba plasma TV nearly five years ago and recently MediaCorp’s channel logo got burnt in on the top right-hand corner of my TV screen.

I e-mailed MediaCorp to suggest that it moves the logos around instead of having them stay in one place for a prolonged period of time.

MediaCorp advised me to buy an LCD TV instead. I do not know whether LCD TVs will also face the same problem.

I wrote to Toshiba and it said all brands would suffer burn-in if any logo is displayed for too long.

How long a logo stayed in one spot is beyond our control unless I switch channels every couple of minutes.

I took some timings and found that the channel logo lasted about eight minutes before a commercial came on.

Fortunately for me, I had purchased an extended warranty or else I would have no recourse.

Would the Media Development Authority or Case care to comment on burn-in and what can be done to alleviate this problem?

Richard Foo Shay Hiap

I have an alternative solution: Get cable. You’ll never watch Channel 5 again.

You will be less likely to get burn-in from the logos if you watch many different channels. Also, many channels (at least, the sports ones) have to move the logos around to accommodate the scoreboard graphics.

Is this a burning national issue that requires MDA’s or Case’s attention and intervention? (Not like Case has done anything useful.) I think not. This brings me to another letter written by a Richard.

Funny English makes its way to trains  

DID I hear wrongly, or did the new announcer on the MRT train actually say, ‘Door are closing’? And did she call Braddell Station ‘Bladel’?

This, surely, is the most atrocious-sounding announcer in the history of the MRT. Her manner of speaking is neither English nor Singlish. Nor is it American, Australian, Indian English, Hong Kong English…

It is funny English. Bad enough that we sometimes hear such English in department stores. Now we hear it on public trains as well.

Some of the previous MRT announcers were actually quite good. They sounded like Singaporeans who speak English well, which is how it should be. Why was there a need to replace them?

Richard Seah Siew Sai

I admit I may be slightly hypocritical here in saying that this issue is something worth bringing up because it affects lots of people. I am sure burn-in affects lots of people too, but it seems quite trivial in comparison.

This one really gets to me. I thought I was alone, until I read this letter. Not only does she mangle ‘Braddell’, she does a very good job at making me cringe when I hear her say ‘Bishan’.

As I have described to some of my friends, “It is like they yanked a random Ah Lian off the street, plonked her in a recording studio and asked her to read the announcements for free.”

Some of the station names sound barely passable at best. And there are some which make me want to max the volume on my iPod, ironically to protect my ears. This new announcer does not sound like she has had any vocal training.

Like Richard Seah, I would like to know why MRT had to change a good thing. We had a terrific announcer who spoke English clearly and announced properly. Now, we are stuck with a third-rate announcer for no apparent reason. Change for change’s sake? Thousands of young commuters and foreigners learning the language are now going to think that her way is the right way. *Shudder*

Thankfully, the previous announcer’s recording is still being played on some trains. For how long, I wonder…

UPDATE  So, the current announcements are by a lady who was my junior college senior. That doesn’t change the fact that she absolutely mangled lots of station names.

I am Singaporean

I wrote this some time ago, when this Mr Brown meme was all the rage. Two things: (1) I didn’t feel it expressed all I wanted to say and (2) August isn’t the only month for national pride. Come to think of it, there’s a third point. (3) I really wanted to make this an audio clip with nice background music and all. However, I couldn’t find anything suitable nor do I have musical talent. So, even though I still feel that it’s inadequate, here goes…


I eat Mee, Nasi, Prata and Devil Curry.

I am a(n?) NSman. Although, we all still call it ‘reservist’.

(Why this comes straight after food? I’m not sure.)

My best friends are mostly in the Civil Service. Thankfully, they are not mindless robots.

I have been through JC and Poly. Which one is better is besides the point.

I wasn’t accepted to a local University*. Strangely, I now work for one.

I read newspapers for a laugh, and read blogs for serious, considered views.

People mistake me for Indian or Malay sometimes. If they hear me talk, they might think I’m a foreigner because I speak relatively well. My country once officially labelled my kind “others”.

Even though I’m an Other, I’m no stranger to this place. It is home.

My name is Kenneth Pinto. And I am Singaporean.

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* I just realised today marks my third year here.