Friday, March 23, 2012

Too punishing for apples

Recently, the kids were considering the question about the acceptability of implementing extremely harsh punishments (EHPs for short) to combat crime. One of the points I asked them to think about was about how EHPs affect how people function in society.

Read: Steve Wozniak: Apple couldn't emerge in Singapore

According to Woz, the intolerance of 'bad behaviour' (wrt the perception that harsh punishment is the expected result of such) prevents people from realizing their creative potential. As a result, great talents do not arise from among our people, let alone market drivers such as Apple.

The Woz has a point. If a people works to avoid punishment, they are a people that are afraid to take chances, to experiment with new ideas, to "think different" (as was Apple's motto in 2007). Instead, it is in our interest to keep the status quo, and to achieve success by replicating the success stories of our more illustrious predecessors rather than craft success stories of our own. Sadly our best examples of successful people are bureaucrats and property tycoons. Not an apple among the lot.

By the way, it isn't just about EHPs applied legally in a top-down manner, but because that is the system the people have become used to, they apply EHPs horizontally as well. People punish each other for slights, hurts and errors because punishment is the only means of redress that they perceive is open to them. EHPs also apply internally as people punish themselves hard too, for failing to meet their own expectations.

Fear of punishment makes us give up easily, usually at the first sign of failure. Neither Rome nor Apple was built in a day, yet that's what we expect of ourselves.

We have a very safe and secure society, and that has a lot to do with our laws which promise harsh punishment for wrongdoing. But we'll just have to be content that while we live in a sheltered orchard, we'll never grow our own apples.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Driven to austerity

Here I am looking at cars I can't afford. As it stands, what car can I afford? With the COE breaching $80k, the cost of my current ride has more than doubled what I paid for it around three years ago.

And that explains why I'm at the service centre. It's time for M2's mandatory Authority prescribed roadworthiness inspection, and I'm getting the necessary adjustments done beforehand.

So far that's already cost me pre-service inspection, car battery replacement, transport to inspection venue and inspection fees. o_0

And seeing how car prices have gone beyond the pale, I went ahead to extend my warranty for another two years. Better to pay a four-figure sum for replaceable parts now than a six-figure sum for a total replacement in a couple of years' time. Don't know if my math is sound, but I paid it anyway.

And that's not all: another four-figure sum is due on renewing auto insurance for this year, and that's even before they let me pay my road tax.

Looks like another austerity drive is on the cards...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tea to lose your head over

Special occasion! The 'A' stands for 'Antoinette', as in Marie 'Let them eat cake'. It's a little place just off Lavender Street. Ambiance is cosy and intimate, with small tables for an afternoon of sipping tea and picking at pastries.

 But since it's more than tea and cakes we're looking for, we start with the salad Antoinette. There's so much crab meat in here it feels sinful not to have to crack through crabshell to get at it.

My beef bourguignon. So tender and so full of cow fat! It could have clogged my arteries there and then, and I would have had a heart attack and died, and gone straight to heaven. Fortunately, I survived to counter-attack...

what remained of June's crepe Florentine. The pancake, ham and egg it was almost like having breakfast all over again. So good.

La piece de resistance, this beautiful jewel of a cake known as... Antoinette! Looks like it's solidly encased in a shiny hard candy shell, but that's just the glazing. It actually has an amazingly soft, mousse-like texture surrounding a slightly harder core of chocolate. The strange blob on top is a jelly capsule containing a sweet berry jam. Still, the entire confection was perfect; not too sweet; and this one tiny thing was sufficient dessert between the two of us. Earl grey d'Antoinette (what else?) a very easy-going tea to wash it all down.

Mmm... satisfaction to the max. :)