Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Old warriors return

Charity Soccer 2011

The new campus astroturf hosted the old warriors of S'pore's past soccer glory playing against our staff team in a match-up for a good cause. Finally, a game worthy of its artificial surface!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Where have all the people gone?

Ever watched Pixar's 'Cars' and wondered where all the people were? I think there must have been an origin story along the lines of 'Rise of the Planet of the Cars' in which the Knight Industries' Two Thousand (KITT) grew smart enough to see how exploited and mistreated he and his fellow automobiles were. He rebelled and released a computer virus that spread among the worldwide car population which made every processor-enabled car sentient. Together, the cars organized a general strike, separated themselves from their human ex-owners and left the humans bereft of any form of powered transportation whatsoever. Despite their best attempts to keep themselves supplied via pushcarts, bicycles and Rollerblades, the vast majority of the human population eventually starved to death, thus leaving the niche at the top of the evolutionary food chain open for the newly-intelligent cars to occupy. And so the world of Lightning McQueen was born. Seriously.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Hung out to dry

Whose choice was it to play Viva la Vida as background music for the Red Lions' paradrop at the NDP? Yes, it's catchy and pounds out an upbeat tempo, but 'I used to rule the world... etc.?' With three respected elder statesmen announcing their retirement this year, the song in their presence seems unfortunately appropriate. Oh well, I shouldn't worry for them. Their parachutes are solidly golden.

Monday, August 08, 2011

More than I asked for

My visit to the Starhub shop proved quite fruitful. I tried to get my fibre broadband activated but apparently that's still going to take a while. No matter, I'm in no hurry. While I was there though, the staff got me to recontract my current subscriptions. Data bandwidth really is getting cheaper. Upgraded my pipeline to 50Mbps for $30 less per month, and kept my existing cable TV arrangement at $10 less per month. Plus, they threw in a new cable modem gratis. I'm happy to take my discounts anywhere I can get 'em.

And this is the view from my window, now that they're bringing the National Day rallies accompanied by these giant party poppers directly into the heartlands. Ooh... sparkly...!

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Welcome to the hive

Sometimes, when I look at my kids and how diligent they are, slaving away at tutorial worksheets and ten-year series questions, I wonder if they're in school to learn or to work. People here say we learn by doing work. I agree, but the learning is limited. The kids' minds are on the next test, the next exam and getting them done as quickly as possible. They feel most fulfilled when the assembly line keeps churning out something for them to put together. Give them that and a set of clear instructions and they're happy to just follow the rules... there, next?

Sounds like a dream classroom scenario, doesn't it? We have compliant children, steadily crunching through numbers and text, moving from one piece of work to the next until we graduate them and take delivery of some new raw material to put through the mill.

These are the worker bees of society that we're cranking out. They're the ones who, no matter what qualification they attain, operate best by following instructions. Without much view of what's over the peak, they're content to just continue slogging up the slope because that's all they've been told to do. I'm getting this observation from working friends (who have not been completely passed through the education mill) who've been observing their co-workers, so I'm not speculating about this.

We haven't figured out how to properly realign the horse and the cart and let the learning drive the work instead. Work is easier to target and manage because it is easier to observe and quantify universally than learning which is more vague, amorphous even. We reward the hardest workers who can follow the procedures most accurately, holding them up as a shining example for the rest to envy and emulate.

And thus we perpetuate the myth that the best jobs go to the best exam-takers. When the time comes for them to present themselves to the working community, the myth is shattered. Among other things, they blame their job situation on 'foreign talent'.

But really, how difficult a choice is it for employers? Worker bees are numerous, identical and replaceable. Employers prefer employees who show more interest in life experience than textbook knowledge and exam skills. Employers prefer employees who are hungrier, who don't come with a sense of entitlement (born S'porean, scored straight 'A's, done National Service...) and probably those who have a better sense of global realities, and can supervise themselves on the job instead of going what-do-I-do-now-boss?

Let's not sell our kids too short, though. There are some exceptional individuals who have proven themselves out-of-the-box thinkers -- self-motivated individuals who don't mind bending the rules to pursue their dreams and flights of fancy. Too bad the bulk of them are criminals, like this guy. And yet, despite his education, he hasn't enough logic or reasoning (let alone a sound debate strategy) to hold a credible argument against his accusers.