Thursday, March 26, 2009

Whatever it is, it isn't Science

No wonder the kids are having so much trouble with GP. I discovered a bunch of them memorizing essays for Biology class. It looks like they haven't kicked this horrific habit yet since secondary school days.

Whatever they're learning in biology, it isn't Science. In fact, it's quite the opposite. A scientific mind is one that questions, observes, tests, evaluates, concludes and applies. A non-scientific mind accepts unquestioningly, taking what's immediately obvious as gospel truth, based on an external Authority -- in this case, probably a teacher's "model answer".

Smart parrots, indeed. Extrinsically motivated to study for the exam rather than intrinsically motivated just to know. Fortunately, they're still taking GP as a compulsory subject. So much damage we have to undo.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bonus debacle

Have we overreacted to AIG's top executives' bonus payout debacle? $165 million looks like an awesome amount of money to waste on people's bonuses, but compared to the $170 billion AIG received for its bailout loan, it works out to about 1/1000 of the total package. As I understand it, the loan was intended to get the company on its feet again, running like a normal, functioning company should. And company bonuses are a normal, even expected, part of corporate function.

Let's make a comparison. An F22-A fighter jet like the one that crashed in California costs $150 million for the US government to write off outright -- almost the total sum of AIG's bonus package itself! For $170 billion, the US government could buy well over a thousand F-22s to replace the crashed one. So, really, there's a lot of bailout money left to deal with the company's problems, even after the bonus payouts. Keeping staff morale high in these bad times is one way to do it.

Of course when I myself am facing a no-bonus scenario at the end of this year, hearing about other people getting bonus amounts I could never even dream of does leave a bad taste in the mouth. But at the same time, there's no reason to get all irrational about it.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Evacuation drill dog story

Our campus evacuation alarm went off at about the time we had anticipated, although we weren't supposed to be anticipating it at all. My job when the bell goes is to head for the main gate, secure it and later to escort media personnel to their holding area where they will receive official information about what's goin' on.

No media showed up for today's drill, but a car stopped at the main gate with a couple of ladies claiming that they had been summoned by phone to retrieve their pet dog which had strayed onto our premises. Could they be performing a 'scenario' that we had been warned to expect?

Not long after, this kid arrives walking down the driveway carrying a short-legged mutt which looked both amused and bemused by its unaccustomed mode of locomotion. Kid transfers canine to me, I shoo him back to where he was supposed to be assembling to take attendance, and I open the main gate to facilitate a slightly embarrased family reunion.

Whoever plans these scenarios is mad.

Monday, March 23, 2009

A couple of hours off

The first meeting of the Wii players' club has come to (dis)order. Members finished up early in the afternoon to take a couple of hours off work and indulge in some hilarity. Odd that we were taking a break from controlling unruly children and still ended up controlling unruly Raving Rabbids instead. The stupid game has fast become our favourite. There's nothing like playing a round to get us laughing at each other as we try to figure out the rules of a game that obviously does not make sense, and who's sole purpose is to embarrass its players in front of their friends.

Little mad breaks like these on the odd (and sometimes very odd) occasion are what keep us going.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

New eyes

Contacts showing signs of wear. Had to get them replaced, but since Leow's retired I have no interest in bothering him to make another pair for me. It was 20 years ago that he made me my first pair and I've been going back to him every year ever since. This year, I went commercial to Capitol Optical, on a good friend's recommendation (name withheld for medical confidentiality).

These old, tired eyes of mine require quite some negotiation to balance out clarity of distance with clarity of reading. Odd that as we get older while we remain as short-sighted as we have always been, we are also getting long-sighted. It's a paradox no one has been adequately able to explain to my satisfaction.

Given my profession, my contacts will have to sacrifice some distance for reading, though when I'm at home I've taken to wearing my googly glasses 'cos they're really my best option. Gimme another couple of years and I will have to consider lasik or just wear glasses permanently. I'm not looking forward to that time when I have a Hobson's choice to make.

But for today, I made a choice anyway. I'm now trialing disposables to replace my current permanent pair. Hygiene and daily freshness were a strong selling point.

And later today, I believe I discovered Sembawang's best kept secret... but I'll only explore it at a later date.