Thursday, November 22, 2012

On Relationalism

Thereupon, the Venerable Nagasena said to King Milinda…" How then did 
you come on foot, or on a mount?" "I did not come, Sir, on foot, but on a 

"If you have come on a chariot, then please explain to me what a chariot is. 
Is the pole the chariot?" 

"No, Reverend Sir!" 

"Is then the axle the chariot?" 

"No, Reverend Sir!" 

"Is it then the wheels, or the framework, of the flag-staff, or the yoke, or the 

reins, or the goad-stick?" 

"No, Reverend Sir!" 

…"Then, ask as I may, I can discover no chariot at all. This "chariot" is just 

a mere sound. But what is the real chariot? Your Majesty has told a lie, has 
spoken a falsehood! There is really no chariot!...” 
But King Milinda said to Nagasena: "I have not, Nagasena, spoken a 
falsehood. For it is in dependence on the pole, the axle, the wheels, the 
framework, the flag-staff, etc, there takes place this denomination "chariot", 
this designation, this conceptual term, a current appellation and a mere 

"Your Majesty has spoken well about the chariot…” 

 (From The Questions of King Milinda)

Singapore is world's least emotional country, poll finds

Only 36% of Singaporeans report feeling positive or negative emotions on a daily basis, compared to 60% in the Philippines
Singapore, where residents work the longest hours in the world, was also found to be the least emotional country. Photograph: Stephen Morrison/EPA
Never mind its temperate 28C weather, low unemployment rate and high per-capita GDP – Singapore is the most emotionless society in the world, according to a new Gallup poll, beating the traditionally po-faced Georgia, Lithuania and Russia in a survey of more than 150 nations.
Asking respondents questions such as "Did you feel well-rested yesterday?", "Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?" and "Did you smile or laugh a lot yesterday?", the survey found that Singaporeans were the least likely to reveal experiencing any emotions at all.
Just 36% of Singaporeans reported feeling positive or negative emotions on a daily basis, while 60% of Filipinos recorded regularly feeling both – the highest response rate of any country worldwide.
"If you measure Singapore by the traditional indicators, they look like one of the best-run countries in the world," Gallup's Jon Clifton was quoted as saying in a Bloomberg report on the survey. "But if you look at everything that makes life worth living, they're not doing so well."
The poll's findings – released on Wednesday – soon went viral on the internet, where they became the butt of many jokes, not least among Singaporeans themselves. "Singapore ranked most emotionless country in the world – not sure how to feel about that," ran a number of Singapore-based tweets. "That [poll] is a lie," commented one reader on the online news portal Today. "I use many emoticons to express how satisfied I am."
Singapore's 5.2 million residents work – at 46.6 hours a week – the longest hours in the world, according to the ILO. And only 2% of the country's workforce describe themselves as engaged by their jobs, according to the Bloomberg report, despite the global average being 11%.
While many Singaporeans seem to agree that the nation does indeed work excessively long hours, its population is not necessarily "emotionless", said the Singaporean native Adrianna Tan. "Every culture expresses everything differently. [The] European love of siesta, or quality of life, is seen in Asian eyes to be laziness," said the 27-year-old IT consultant. "You can't put one set of expectations that one group of people decides is 'how one should live' and apply it uniformly across the world."
In the Philippines – which ranked as the world's most emotional society, followed by El Salvador and Bahrain – analysts were quick to point out that being emotional doesn't necessarily equate with being happy. One reporter at GMA News stressed that the nation ranked 103rd out of 155 countries in the 2012 World Happiness Report – and that its 95 million inhabitants are said to be the most depressed in all of south-east Asia.

You have 2 cows

Sharing something I found on the net. Just for fun!
  • Socialism: You have 2 cows and you give one to your neighbor.
  • Communism: You have 2 cows; the Government takes both and gives you some milk.
  • Fascism: You have 2 cows; the Government takes both and sells you some milk.
  • Nazism: You have 2 cows; the Government takes both and shoots you.
  • Bureaucratism: You have 2 cows; the Government takes both, shoots one, milks the other and throws the milk away..
  • Traditional Capitalism: You have 2 cows. You sell one and buy a bull. You herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.
  • An American Corporation: You have 2 cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a consultant to analyze why the cow dropped dead.
  • A French Corporation: You have 2 cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.
  • Japanese Corporation: You have 2 cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called Cowkimon and market them Worldwide.
  • An Italian Corporation: You have 2 cows, but you don't know where they are. You break for lunch.
  • A Swiss Corporation: You have 5000 cows. None of which belong to you. You charge others for storing them.
  • Chinese Corporation: You have 2 cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the newsman who reported the numbers.
  • An Iraqi Corporation: Everyone thinks you have lots of cows. You tell them that you have none. No one believes you and they bomb your arse. You still have no cows, but at least now you are part of a Democracy.......
  • Counter Culture: 'Wow, dig it, like there's these 2 cows, man, grazing in the hemp field. You gotta have some of this milk!'
  • Surrealism: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.
  • Apathyologism: You have 2 cows. You do not care.
  • Fatalist: You have 2 doomed cows...
  • Atheism: You have 2 cows. There is no God.
  • A West-Country Corporation: You have 2 cows. That one on the left is kinda cute.
  • A Brazilian Corporation: You have 2 cows. You pay taxes for 6 cows. You have to sell one cow in order to pay the taxes. Your remaining cow gets sick and dies while waiting for availability in the public vet hospital.
  • Russia: You have two cows. Since they are both female, if you happen to keep them in the same stable you will pay a 5,000 rouble fine for homosexual propaganda.
  • PETA: You have two cows. You kill them both. You then use naked women to convince other people that killing cows is wrong.
  • Moffat: You have two cows. Both of them are your daughters time traveling from the past where they had a brief love affair with Da Vinci making you the rightful Queen of England.
  • Hussie: You have 2 cows. You ask for another one. Instead of getting just 1 cow, you get 2,485,506 cows.
  • Romney: You have 2 cows. You are not the president of the united states.
  • Once-ler: You have 1 cow. Everyone decides to make 5 different versions of that cow.
  • Old Spice: You have 2 cows. The cows are now diamonds. I'm on a horse.
  • An Irish Corporation: You have a million cows because they're everywhere
  • Tumblr: You have 2 cows. You ship them together and make GIF posts screaming about how much you love your cows, but they should stop existing because they are so perfect.
  • Also Tumblr: I give you a hamburger.
  • Cows: The [charming expletive] you go through.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Tisch Closes in Singapore, and How It Relates to Deeper Problems

It’s official: Tisch, the famous New York based arts school, is shutting down in Singapore. What’s that? You don’t care? Oh I see. You don’t grasp the significance of this. You think it’s some fancy, prancing-around-in-ballet-pants crap, and it shouldn’t matter. Well in this article, I’ll explain how the closure of Tisch reflects on serious financial issues in Singapore:

Camera Man
Well, at least they have an excuse to be dramatic about it.

What is Tisch?

Tisch is a New York based film school. Despite having a website that belongs in 1997, Tisch is one of the most recognized brands in education.
They have courses for film making, dramatic writing, animation, etc. But I’m not talking about their syllabus here. My focus is on the amount of money we poured into Tisch, and how it’s failure reflects on deeper issues.
Tisch was part of the global schoolhouse concept, an attempt to transform Singapore into an educational hub. Not “transform” by having lots of external exams, because that would be too easy. No, we want to find prestigious schools, and build the entire campus on our soil. Because if there’s one problem we have, it’s too much space.
A related objective was to reach 150,000 foreign students by 2015. This number has now been revised downwards.
Tisch’s closure is the latest in a series of embarrassments, following pull-outs by Warwick University and UNSW (University of New South Wales).

How Much Does This Cost Us?

Signing a cheque
Wow, I haven’t started making movies and I’m ALREADY over-budget.

These failed experiments might be tolerable, if we weren’t losing money like a blind drunk at a roulette table.
In an earlier court case, it was revealed that the Economic Development Board (EDB) extended a $9.6 million loan for the Tisch campus. I doubt this can be paid back, as Tisch’s deficits were over $7 million in 2009 alone. In addition, the EDB also gave out grants totalling $6.13 million (meant to last till 2016).
Then there’s the UNSW campus. UNSW got money from EDB for their campus, but EDB refuses todisclose the amount. Considering the site would have housed 15,000 students, and UNSW alone invested over $22 million, I’d hazard we lost another eight digit figure.
What can we learn from this?
  • We’re Wasting Money
  • The Attraction Value is Questionable
  • The Necessity is Questionable

1. We’re Wasting Money

Attempting to buy a whole foreign University is…hang on, let me find the technical term…bloody stupid.
I get that Singapore wants the intellectual sophistry of a college town. If we could have a whole city of thinkers, everyone would want to hire our workers. Every company will want to set up here, because even our janitors would be discussing post-modernism over lattes. That’s the dream.
But it doesn’t work that way. A University is more than a campus and a brand, it’s also a culture. And some cultures will not thrive in a Singaporean context. It’s like thinking:
Apple trees make money, so let’s just just buy a bunch from Michigan and plant them here. Instant cash.”
It doesn’t work, because the soil and climate are wrong. Those trees won’t grow. In the same way, we can’t just ship lecturers en-masse from Harvard, and expect to clone it on our soil.

Yes, we’re impressed by your Degree. Now get your broom and sweep.

Warwick University already gave us a hint: Our strait-jacket attitude means their culture can’t survive here, whether or not their campus gets built. It’s not about the money.
So all that cash we’re pouring into foreign Universities? It’s just a big black hole, sucking up funds that could go elsewhere. Let’s hope the government re-thinks this idea, and soon.

2. The Attraction Value is Questionable

I’m not even going to discuss the impact of 150,000 foreign students. Politics and I mix like power drills and heart surgery. I’ll just raise this point:
We don’t need foreign Universities to attract foreign students.
Firstly, if someone wants to go to Warwick or Tisch, why would they fly to Singapore? Why wouldn’t they fly to the actual Warwick or Tisch? Considering the price of those schools, I doubt those students are on poverty relief.

Changi Airport
“In the end, I decided on the Singapore Tisch instead of the New York one, because Changi airport is really efficient”. – 100% true story

Second, consider Singapore’s main attractions. We have solid infrastructure, safe streets, Eunice Olsen, etc. Here’s my guess: If all we had were local institutions, like NUS or NTU, we’d still see an influx of foreign students. I mean, didn’t local institutions have to introduce caps on foreigners?
If our local schools are in such high demand, why don’t we pour money into expanding them instead? Why buy overpriced foreign lecturers, who aren’t a good fit anyway?

3. The Necessity is Questionable

Without importing those schools, we can’t grow local talent. And also, a French Fry diet is great for weight loss.
Who are we kidding? Last I checked, we had successful directors (Royston Tan, Jack Neo, that bunch) even before Tisch. I’m not saying Tisch had nothing to contribute, just that we overestimate its necessity. Just as we did with Warwick and UNSW.

NUS students in the hall
And I’ll show you’re just as good as a Harvard student. Or I’ll fail you.

We didn’t have world-famous schools in the 1950′s, but we still worked our way to a first world education. And we did it without any of the overpriced tactics we’re using now. So why the new-found lack of confidence?
If the government lacks sufficient faith to invest in local Universities, why would we? This is why some Singaporeans choose to study abroad: The impression that local just isn’t as good. And every dollar we place in a foreign University helps to affirm that.
So think about that, if you’re trying for a skills upgrade; it’s not all about the branding. And follow us on Facebook, if you want to know budget friendly ways to get a Degree.