No Diamonds

Dear Boys,

I didn’t get your mum a diamond ring for our wedding. She didn’t wanted one as well.

We’re not big fan of The Rock, Dwayne Johnson; yes, but not the Diamond. We are not fans of buying diamonds.

This Rock?
Or this Rock?

Phew! That is a relief for me, since I was going to make your mum my wife, had she asked for one, it’d been a bummer for me.

Anyway, diamonds are overrated. Seriously.

Personally to me, I’d rather keep gold than diamond, as diamonds is basically like most of the material items are value added by humans via marketing and salesmanship. And the market is very much monopolized by one company De Beers, who is one of the market leaders in the Diamond trade, and in the 1950s, they came up with a creative campaign which helps propelled this rock into mainstream consumer demands. Now most men can’t get married unless they have one of these rock on a ring to be able to confidently propose to a girl of his dream (nightmare). Putting much grief in a man’s pocket, and much joy on a woman’s face.

All that glitter isn’t gold

Well, let’s be frank, there are crystals and there are diamonds, both glitters, perhaps one better than the other. There are also glass cuts shaped to look like diamonds, and if you drop both on the ground, will you be able to tell one from the other?

There’s so many times I find one of these glass looking diamond cuts and I wondered if they are the real thing or not. To a layperson, it is really difficult to tell one from the other.

Diamond is forever

Basically this is a marketing campaign by Frances Gerety, a copywriter who came out with this 3-worded phrase that has endeared long after she has died.

It is a catchy phrase that let’s people think that in a tumultuous and uncertain world, having a diamond to seal the union of a couple, would helps provide some longevity in the relationship. Let’s get real, it doesn’t.

It is the magic of marketing that let’s us think narrowly, and spend stupidly. While there is some truth as to diamonds being forever, relationships certainly doesn’t. And certainly diamonds have no power whatsoever as a good luck charm or romantic talismans that glue a marriage together.  It is all about hard work and the willingness of a couple to work with each other to make the union work, and stay together, till death.

(Blood) Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend

While I knew long before I watch Leonardo DiCaprio‘s 2006 thriller Blood Diamond, which basically tells a story about the suffering and pain brought about by our demands for this glittery stones.

While the story was fictitious, the background of the story is real. The demand for diamonds is fueling conflicts in Africa. People are going to war and killing each other for diamonds, and these diamonds sometimes makes it to the consumer markets. so much so that the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme was implemented in 2003 to ensure that diamonds brought to the market are not harvested through illegal means, or gotten through conflict, fighting and other less than humane means.

The bottom line is, there is a lot of people hurt or being made used of just to bring this piece of rock into the market for a man to make a woman happy. All thanks to Hollywood for the song “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend“, the rock is certainly a man’s pocket’s worst enemy!

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Life lessons: Soya Bean Milk and Milk

Dear Ian,

I bought 2 cartons of Soya Bean milk back one day and you handled the groceries for me, and I realised later in the day, that there only 1 of the 2 carton is in the fridge. To my suprise, you put the unopened carton with the milk carton at the shelf, which is not in the fridge, obviously.

There’s an opportunity for a life lesson.

You came over and explained to me that all cartons are to be place on the kitchen shelf, together with the milk.

Then I showed you the difference.

The soya bean milk is pasteurised, which means it was not treated with UHT (Ultra High Temperature) like the Milk carton on the right. Pasteurised products need refrigeration constantly and has to be treated differently from the UHT Milk, which can be kept in room temperature, and only needs refrigeration after opening.

It’s not your fault you didn’t know, but had you paid closer attention, you would have noticed the soya bean carton was kept at the refrigerated area at the supermarket, and the UHT milk isn’t.

Anyway, the life lesson is that you really cannot judge a book by its cover, or in this case, judge the carton all the same. The cartons might look the same, but the produce inside is different and has to be treated differently. You need to read and understand the content and of course know where it came from and give it a different treatment.

This is of course the same for people, never assume that when people came from the same place, country, religion, race and/or education, they are the same. Always read the ‘labels’, understand where they are from, and treat them the way they need to be treated. Of course, if people are so easy to read like they have instructions printed and labelled, the the world will be a much better place.

 

 

 

 

Three Worded Hokkien (A-Z guide)

ahbeng.jpg

Dear Boys,

I hope by the time you boys grow up, you can learn a thing or two about speaking in hokkien. It is a dialect from China and the way Singaporeans says it is so different from the way Taiwanese says it.

To start off, let’s look at some simple three worded Hokkien (TWH).

Ang Moh Lang
Chinese simplified: 红毛人 ( hóng máo rén)

  • Caucasian, or loosely speaking, in colloquial sense, ‘red hair people’, when the Chinese first bumped into Caucasian, with their red hair, the term got stuck. The more common form will drop the ‘Lang’ and simply regard Caucasians as ‘ang mohs’

Boh Kiam Lui
Chinese simplified: 不欠钱 (Bù qiàn qián)

  • It means, doesn’t owe money

Boh Lui Lang
Chinese simplified: 没钱人 (méi qián rén)

  • Poor People

Char Bor Lang
Chinese simplified: 女人 ( nǚ rén)

  • Woman. in some context, it can means The Wife

Huan Kiah Lang
Chinese simplified: 马来人 ( mǎ lái rén)

  • Malays. In the movie ‘Black Hawk Down’ the American General mispronounced them as ‘May Lay’

Inn Dor Lang
Chinese simplified: 印度人 ( yìn duó rén)

  • Indian, more specifically, people from the country of India

Jiak Liao Bee
Chinese simplified: no chinese equivalent

  • It usually means that person is good for nothing. loosely means ‘eating wasted rice’. We all eat to do something, so the rice will not be waste when eaten

Jing Kek Sim
Chinese simplified: no chinese equivalent

  • It is a ‘heart pain’ feeling. Like when you see your favourite team losing very badly, you feel that desolation. It is a feeling only express in Hokkien. ‘Kek Sim!’

Jiak Jiu Jwee
Chinese simplified: 喝醉酒 ( hē zuì jiǔ)

  • Drunk. ‘Jiak’ usually means ‘to eat’ but sometimes when you are that drunk, you wouldn’t know if you are drinking or eating your beer! ‘Lim’ should be the correct hokkien verb for ‘drink’

Keeh Si Lah
Chinese simplified: 去死拉 ( qù sǐ lā)

  • Go and die!

Kuah Si Mee
Chinese simplified: 看什么 ( kàn shén me)

  • Again, this is under a more provocative tone. An English equivalent will be ‘See what see?!’ It is usually used in a staring incident and a challenge of a stare-down

Luan Gong Way
Chinese simplified: 乱讲话 (luàn jiǎng huà)

  • It usually means that the person is talking nonsense, or trash

Mai Tu Liao
Chinese simplified 别耽误/不要等 (bié dān wù/ bù yào děng)

  • Do not delay/wait. It usually implies a sense of urgency, after a period of impatience

Mai Luan Gong
Chinese simplified: 别乱讲 ( bié luàn jiǎng )

  • Do not talk rubbish, or in Singlish term, ‘Don’t talk cock.’

Pui Chao Nuah
Chinese simplified: 吐口水 ( tǔ kǒu shuǐ)

  • Spit. This is done with a feeling of disdain, or disgust

See Beh Song
Chinese simplified: 非常爽 ( fēi cháng shuǎng)

  • Usually, it is crudely used to imply a very good sensation and feeling. Say after a hard day’s work, to kick back and enjoy an ice cool beer. ‘See Beh Song Ah!’

See Mee Sai
Chinese simplified: No Chinese Equivalent

  • It usually means crudely, ‘What the hell do you want?’ Or you can reply in annoyance “See Mee Sai???’ meaning, ‘What?! What?!’

Ta Bor Lang
Chinese simplified: 男人 ( nán rén)

  • Male, Man. in some context, it can means The Husband

Tiah Tian Way/ Gong Tian Way
Chinese simplified: 听电话/讲电话 (tīng diàn huà/ jiǎng diàn huà)

  • Answering or talking on the phone. Loosely speaking it means ‘listen to the phone’ Contextually, it means pick up the phone!

Tio Beh Pio
Chinese simplified: 中马票 ( zhòng mǎ piào )

  • Struck lottery!!!

Tau Kar Chiu
Chinese simplified: 装手脚 (zhuāng shǒu jiǎo)

  • Being helpful, offering assistance to your fellow human beings in fixing things and solving problems

Uu Lui Lang
Chinese simplified: 有钱人 ( yǒu qián rén)

  • Rich People

Helpful links

http://www.singlishdictionary.com/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singlish_vocabulary

Posted: Nov 18, 2015

New Year Resolution…Again?!

Dear Boys,

Happy New Year! We hear this every last day of December, and first day of January.

People always tend to take stock of what was done for the entire calendar year, based on the worldwide approved Julian Calendar. Unless you live in an island on your own, where you are the king, prime minister, president and citizen all rolled into one, everybody else uses the Julian Calendar.

it is always a human fallacy to know the things that are good for us that we don’t do enough…

After taking stock, comes this ‘resolution’ thingy, which usually means trying to do some things as a goal, aim, or target to hit for the new year, and then take stock again, end of the year. It never gets old, because every January is a Happy New Year!

I’m not a resolution person. I can tell you boys why on a blog, but it will take an entire  blog to tell you why I am not a resolution person. I’m just not.

But I was reading this self-help book, at random, 101 Tiny Changes to Brighten Your Day by Ailbhe Malone, and she was talking about well… small things, tiny things we can take notice of that can either brighten our day or darken it.

It’s something like don’t sweat the small stuff, except that you do, because when you take care of the small stuff, the big stuff will take care of itself.

Well, it’s not as if I don’t know about the small stuff and we need to focus on it, it is always a human fallacy to know the things that are good for us that we don’t do enough. So reading that book is a good reminder for me to look into the minute details of things, my daily actions, and let the rest worry itself. Of course there will be consequences of our actions, but sometimes, our consequences is beyond our control, what else can we do? Micro-adjust our next steps, and the next and the next, until we get what we want.

Aikido, it is all about the small things.

I ought to know this since I’m in Aikido, as Aikido is all about the small things. Heck, life is about it, and Aikido as a martial art, is only a fraction of what we succeed or fail in life. In Aikido, we work from a large circle as a novice to a small and barely perceptible circle of a long-time Aikidoka. From small circular movement, you can displace a larger momentum. Our aim is to make our circle smaller and smaller, and the only way to achieve that is to focus on our small movements, a little muscle twitch here, or even a fleeting thought there, that might delay our decision to move a fraction of a second, or too soon.

All the small things

This is not a resolution still, but for 2019- I want to go back to basics, and focus on the minute, nano-scopic details of my actions, and how these little small actions can affect me in a large way, positively or negatively.

That means I need to work on being a more sensitive, delicate and considerate person. Not for a better world, but for a better me, which in turns helps to better the world.

Body protection-wearing head protection

Body protection-wearing head protection

my helmet

Dear Boys,

Back in my days, when I was mountain biking, I never gotten the rationale of wearing a helmet. But as I read magazines about the sport, I realised the importance, and yet still bike without one, as the price of helmets back then was too expensive for a youngster like me to get.

These days, you can get cheap helmets, that offers good protection. Always try to wear head protection, no matter how stupid you look.

True story

I never forget that day when I went to fetch Ian and I had your bike with me, and helmet of course. You’re off your training wheels but still having some trouble balancing it. You strapped on your helmet and got on your bike.

But you fell, losing balance moving off. You didn’t know it, but I saw it, your head glanced off the kerb, and it was your helmet that absorbed the impact. Well, it could have been your head.

DSC_0031 (2)
biking on Coney Island

Why a helmet?

Its elementary, stupid.

You have a head, the head have an organic helmet called a skull, and it is always good to have another helmet for the organic helmet, because if you crack your external helmet, you buy a new one, and if you crack your organic helmet, good luck.

When I was in military service, of course we also have helmets to wear. Back in those days, I wore a steel pot type, with a inner liner, it was heavy, clunky and hot. Kevlar helmets was slowly phasing in, and when I was in Reservist, I had Kevlar types.

I used to ride a motorcycle and needless to say, helmets is a must.

And now, when I got mountain biking, I always wear a helmet, and I cringe every time I rode past a cyclist, e-biker, skater, or roller-blader without a helmet. Sure you look cool, until you crash, crack a skull and then we’ll see if that’s cool. I cringe more when I see parents with their kids, not getting their kids to wear head protection.

ebike-singapore-road
wind in your hair, brain spilled on the road

You speed, you need a helmet 

sph_e-bike-e1545542044105.jpg
senselessly risking his own life

We tend to bike a lot these days, and as much as possible, please wear a helmet.

As long as you are on anything that travels faster than 10km/h, please wear a helmet.

If you go rock climbing, please wear a helmet.

Don’t let your friends tell you helmets are stupid looking, or it is hot wearing one. Look at it this way, even the most elite special forces soldiers wear head protection because they know it saves lives. So if it looks stupid, but it works, then it is not stupid.

Every kind of high risk sport will have their own kind of head protection. Use them, find a good fit and make sure the helmet is strapped on. Even a big helmet is better than no helmet, so try to get one that fits, and tighten it till it doesn’t wobble on your head. Shake your head side to side and front to back, the movement should be minimal.

20136515_10209428391415802_79231618_n
Even our pioneer soldiers wear helmets. photo courtesy of Steven Lim

Heard about these parenting taboos?

Dear Boys,

The world we live in is full of myths, taboos and other old wives’ tales on how things should be or should not be done. For me, I asked a group of friends over Facebook, and they came up with some really original ones.

Erena

  • “Don’t consume mutton if preggers . Like the baby might get epilepsy or fits in future.”
  • “They kept saying to drink Soya milk and bird nest so that the baby will become really fair .”
  • ” Like if u take chicken feet , your feet will become really strong . Does it work that way ?”

Agnes

  • “Also k not consume too much bird nest, or else the baby would prone to asthma or coughing.”

Flo

  • “Avoid colas too during lactation…it will affect the infant. Real story not mine tho!”

Jason

  • “Leaving bits of rice in your rice bowl after a meal will cause your future spouse to have lots of acne and pockmarks.”
  • “bad luck to open an umbrella indoors.”
  • “Shaving a baby’s head and eyebrows will ensure that the hair will grow back thick and luscious.”

Yvonne

  • “One old myth: During pregnancy, don’t sweep the bed floor right underneath the bed… Baby will have lots of hair… Seriously I worry about those who believed this… Hygiene and cleanliness are more important…”

Gracia

  • “Never look at ugly people or monkeys and dogs during pregnancy. Heard from old folks”

Dawn

  • “Always comment n say how you like your baby’s facial features to be during pregnancy period n the truth will happen.”

Matthew

  • “Never paint or Knock your wall during pregnancy? Don’t try ya..”
  • “Never use scissor on the bed during pregnancy “
  • “Never fix wiring , ( I did ), then seriously Elias had his umbilical cord haywired. “

Samantha
“Don’t tickle the baby’s feet or he/she will be afraid to walk”
“Don’t say “wah baby you are getting heavy”. Will induce jealousy from the evil spirits”

Melody

  • “When baby suck his/her toe, u r he/she is going to have a bro/sis soon.. lol”

Olivia

  • “Don’t use anything sharp to cut on the bed when pregnant….. If not, the child will have cleft lips”
  • “Never wash hair and have the fan blowing on oneself within the first month after one has given birth, or you will have wind in your body (Tao Hong…lol)”

Kwee Huat Wee

  • “Do not let the young eat fish roe, otherwise they would grow up poor in their calculation.”

So there you have it, I’m sure the list is not exhaustive and in your time, you might have heard of new new ones, or some of these might stay to your time! Do add your own to this list and everyone can have a good time learning from it!
( Thanks to all contributors from #1303, you know who you are!)

Posted Dec 20, 2015

Fake news is real

Fake news is real

Dear Boys,

We are bombarded with information all the time and more often than not, these inputs comes with a dash of ‘white lies’ or in a sense twisted perspective of the truth. You see, in my opinion, Truth is Relative.

People see things in a different dimension from us, just as we from them, and as much as I try to share and teach you boys things, you both will grow up with your own perspective and learning experience, no two person in this world thinks exactly alike.

prince william middle finger
This?
prince william three finger
Or this?

Individualism

It is more prevalent in this era where individuals are glorified. Of course every single human life is precious and every single person’s opinion matters. This forms the basis of democracy where politicians tries to ‘talk’ to every single one of us and make us vote in favour of them. Every single vote counts in their favour (or not).

While being an individual these days empowers us to have our own voice, let’s not forget every single individual coming together makes a collective, societal movement, which can change the tides in a real world environment.

What is Fake news?

Fake news has existed long before the internet, in my times, they are known as tabloids. They always kind of juice up news like “My Husband was a UFO Alien in Disguise.

In fact, the first Men In Black, Tommy Lee Jones taught Will Smith to check the ‘hot sheets’ which Will Smith called them ‘newspaper tabloids’.

You don’t see tabloids nowadays as they have evolved into the virtual realm.

Fake news are not just mundane crap like. “Zoe Tay is a man!” (she isn’t!) Michael Jackson is white! (He isn’t either!) but more insidious things like, “Teen gang attacks Indian construction workers in broad daylight.” Or “Airline pilots used simulators to train for their new aircraft”

You see, those 2 ‘news’, sounds plausibly true, perhaps. But the way it was presented hints that public safety is at risk, ‘broad daylight‘, is the streets safe anymore? ‘used simulators‘- implied the pilots are not well trained to fly the actual planes.

It is not just about the headlines.

Well, it is more than that, these spin doctors can create an entirely fictitious story and sell it as the truth. There will be plots, characters and twists that mimics real life and people will lap it up as the stories are created to look like the real life. #wagthedog

wag_the_dog_99-210x300
Wag the Dog

Trolls, what are they?

These are not the cuddly cute cartoon trolls. We are talking about internet trolls, these are very smart computer people, who came together to create news, propaganda and disseminate them through various information channels. Their aim is to sway the mass of people for or against their agenda, and sow discord. They are the new generation of spin doctors.

Information are spread through various decentralised platforms, a person can film a controversial incident and put in on their own personal blog, very much like mine, and it is somehow picked up by news agencies, and the it can spread. That is the somewhat old school way.

These days with Artificial Intelligence, controversial news can be twisted and sent out via bots, and within seconds, becomes viral, generating thousands of ‘likes’ topping internet traffic. And people who are not careful about reading deeper, will get caught up in this news, and start getting lead on. I’m not a tech geek but that’s the gist of it.

It is all about the emotions

The whole point is to stir the public emotions. While I mention that individualism is prized these days, Trolls are using viral news to move the masses, one by one, targeting individuals and their values. Before you know it, everyone will be caught in the movement which can bring about an uncontrolled consequences. You may be an individual, but when a collective societal emotional wave comes, you will be caught up in that movement and get swept away by it.

Singapore’s context

We are small, and fake news, if  not kept in check can have a devastating social consequences. I just read an article about how Fake News started a war in Ukraine, we can never be too complacent about what we read and disseminate.

At the rate people are reading news via social media these days, it is very easy to plant a sensational news and stir the public sentiments. Especially in Singapore, you can target what is said in out Singapore Pledge. Race, Language or Religion.

But Trolls are smarter than that, they target daily affairs, such as our love for Durians- indicating that Durians from Malaysia has high levels of insecticides, and if people buy into this, business can be hurt, both in Singapore and Malaysia.

Individual Opinions

You might say that well, you are educated and surely be smart enough to spot fake news and not fall prey to such scams. ( “4 in 5 Singaporeans confident in spotting fake news but 90 per cent wrong when put to the test-The Straits Times-SEP 27, 2018)

These are the kind of people the trolls target, educated, literate people who knows social media, and are affluent to help them spread and brag how smart (and right) they are. So they plant these seemingly real, but fake news in your head. As long as you think it is plausible, it will become possible, if you think hard enough. And sometimes, you really cannot tell apart fact from fiction.

S.U.R.E

No I’m not promoting National Library Board in anyway, but they have launched a campaign to combat fake news and they used a simple but catchy phrase. ‘S.U.R.E’

S.U.R.E. distills key Information Literacy (IL) concepts into 4 simple ways:

Source: Look as its origins. Is it trustworthy?

Understand: Know what you’re reading. Search for clarity.

Research: Dig deeper. Go beyond the initial source.

Evaluate: Find the balance. Exercise fair judgement.

So make SURE you are going through that thought process when you read about something, always cross reference your findings since google is always so readily available. Then again what you read in google might not always be the truth. Like what is said on the last part: ” Exercise fair judgement.”

Links:

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/cnainsider/how-fake-news-sparked-war-ukraine-russia-crimea-select-committee-11055154?cid=fbcna&fbclid=IwAR3Kawxtg39s1DIP4gPYCbQv84_l20xyv30Ad7jHtvChGXQqBZx2HYXrJs4

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/4-in-5-singaporeans-confident-in-spotting-fake-news-but-90-per-cent-wrong-when-put-to-the

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/select-committee-fake-news-online-falsehoods-recommendations-10739834

http://www.nlb.gov.sg/sure/category/fake-news/

https://www.betterinternet.sg/