Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Canadian Gunman and New York Hatchet Man - What they have in common

Canadian Gunman led a troubled life.  He was a loner, a drug addict, a criminal, a drifter and lately, an Islamic radical.  He may have embraced religion as an attempt to 'scaffold a disintegrating life.' So far, the authorities have not found any accomplices, which is a relief.

In a similar vein, the New York hatchet man was a 'depressed recluse'.  Family members said he spent much of his time on his computer in his bedroom.  He was not married, had no children and no recent employment.  He was arrested 6 times in California in 2003-04.  He spent 3 years in the military but was involuntarily discharged in 2003, most likely due to drugs.

While it is a relief that there appears to be no larger group at work here, still the issue of the self-radicalised, lone wolf, has grown to be a significant threat.  This can happen anywhere and all societies should be prepared for this.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Southampton (UK) - Peppa Pig Land (Paultons Park) Part 1 - Post Cruise

Post cruise, just off the Adventure of the Seas.  Disembarkation was smooth and easy. We would be staying at the Southampton Premier Inn West Quay for two nights, before flying back to Singapore.

On the day of disembarkation, we pick up a rental car from the Enterprise Car Rental company which was located right at the port.  Because there were six of us, we rented an MPV.  Here was what we go, a Volkswagon Sharan.

After unloading our luggage, the plan was to visit Paultons Family Theme Park (Peppa Pig World!).   It was about a 20 minute drive from Southampton.  I navigated using a GPS.  This was the rental car parked at the Paultons Park car park.

Here is a short video clip of the Peppa Pig land.

Check your height here.  Children under one metre in height get in free.

Not many cars today.

No lines, which was a relief.  This was the ticket booth.

This was the entrance.

The park would close at 6pm today.  We got here late morning, so plenty of time.

Signages.  The main reason we were here was to visit Peppa Pig Land.  There were other rides too.

This heavy ball was actually rolling around, above water.  Pity I didn't take a video of it.

Some eatery selling food, but not many patrons.

My kids were too old for this.

Tiny Tots Town.

Gives you an idea of the prices at the restaurants.

Oh yes, we were in Peppa Pig Land, and Peppa Pig was out for a photo-shoot.

Nice flowers.

We took a ride on this later.

Yes, this ride.  Good view of the park from up there.

In the line for the ride.

Another balloon ride.

A view from the top.

That was the balloon ride.

I thought the roof was very interesting.  Thatched.  Reminded me of Norway.

Apparently it helps to keep the place cool.

Move on to Part 2

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Plane Landing Videos

On this page, I put the plane landing videos that are interesting, scary, or just make you go 'wow'.

These videos are not mine, but from aviation enthusiasts on the Internet and YouTube.

Air France - Hurricane Gonzales, go-around three times, all failed.  The pilot subsequently diverted to London Heathrow.  Watch from 3:00 for his third attempt, which was so closed, but aborted at the very last moment.

Emirates A380 - Landed successfully, Manchester Airport, during recent Hurricane Gonzales

Singapore Airlines A380 Crosswind landing Narita Airport

Singapore Airlines A380 - landing looked normal but at the very last moment, she was hit by a hard crosswind. Look at how the pilot corrected, see the tail movement. Great stuff.

Thanks for reading.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Motorised Scooters - Future of Mobility?

Driving out of a multi-storey carpark one morning, I was taken aback to see an elderly person on a motorized scooter zoom across the road.  He was moving quite fast, as you can see from the video below.  I think we will see more and more of such mobility scooters in Singapore, as our population ages.

I hope all drivers will be more careful, and the riders of these scooters be extra careful because their profile is so small.

Why Scooters Only For The Elderly?
Thinking further, it struck me that perhaps we are already seeing the future of mobility.  I re-watched the video again.  The attributes that made this scooter uncle dangerous from a driver's point of view now stood out as key advantages in the following way.

First, he took up so little road space.  Second, he was so small and agile.  Third, his device is very green, being electric powered.  Think about cars today.  Look around the crowded roads and you will notice that in most cases, cars are just carrying one passenger.

Most cars carry just one passenger.  Taking up a lot of road space.
Say the passenger weighs 70kg.  A standard 1.6L car weighs 1,300kg, bigger cars weigh more.  You need a machine weighing 1,300 kg to ferry a person weighing 70kg around.  Doesn't it sound a bit off the mark?

Massive Jams - So much unused space on the road
Take a look at this picture of a massive jam in the USA.  Clearly, there is a lot of underutilised space on the road, but because of the size of each car, we can't squeeze more vehicles on the road.
Look at that jam.  Look at how much space is wasted. 
So, every transport economist and urban planner know that cars are terribly inefficient in terms of choking up the road space and therefore the focus is to build up public transport.  That is correct, but ultimately, yet the demand for cars will always be there.  Why?  Because people want the freedom to move around as and when they like.  Look again at the video of the elderly man whizzing across the road.  Isn't it exhilarating for him?  And how is public transport going to help him cross the road anyway?

So What Can We Do?
To be absolutely clear, I am a big fan of public transport, so we should keep investing in improving the transport network, through trains and buses.  But what I want to say is that large urban cities should seriously re-think about cars and whether we can have smaller cars, or smaller mobility vehicles.

Take this video as an example.  This product is called a Terrain Hopper.  It looks like a souped up and powerful mobility scooter that can go on a hike.  Amazing stuff.   If we extend this idea to build a scooter that has a cover shade and longer distance, perhaps it can be used to replace some road traffic too.

Bring on the Renault Twizy
Now, this is an exciting new toy.  Renault calls is the future of mobility. The Renault Twizy is an electric city car (legally classified in Europe as a quadricycle). The quadricycle has a claimed range of up to 62 miles and costs well under $10,000. It launched in March 2012 and is now available throughout most of Europe.

The Twizy's dimensions are as follows.
Length 2.32 m (91 in)
Width 1.19 m (47 in)
Height 1.46 m (57 in)
Curb weight 450 kg (992 lb)

Compare this with a standard Corolla,
Length 4.5m
Width 1.7m
Height 1.4m
Curb weight 1,300kg

This video from Renault shows you  just how small and agile the Twizy is.  Remember the very jammed motorway?  You probably only need 1/4 the number of Twizys to carry the same number of people in that picture.  We just increased the road capacity by 4 times!

This video from Renault is also very cool.  It shows you that the technology behind the Twizy is no laughing matter.  Look at how fast a souped up Twizy can go.

The Uncle on the motorized scooter has many lessons for urban planners and transport planners.  I think we should break out of the mould of the cars that we drive today.  It just doesn't make much sense when road space is so limited.

Thanks for reading and I hope I have given you more food for thought.

Disclaimer - I do not work for Renault and I am not associated to the mobility products shown above in any way. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Centerpiece - Groom Surprises Brides with A Musical

WOW, just wow.  If you like the musical genre, you will love this.

Thanks for watching.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Affair Alert Low Chek Kian with Hong Kong model

Affair alert.

Mr Low was allegedly seen with a Hong Kong model, behaving intimately in Hong Kong.

 Here is Mr Low's profile, from the NTU website, where he is a member of the Board of Trustees. Mr Low is a very established private sector guy in the finance and investment industry, having been Senior Vice President of Merill Lynch as well as it's Chairman for Asia-PAC region

Here is the model/actress.

Here are the incriminating photos. Taking a walk, shopping, but clearly they look like some couple. He is married, he has a child.

Some more incriminating photos. Check out their kissing.  I don't think he can explain that away.

Here is Mr Low and his legal wife, on the same night in HK!

Juicy stuff indeed.

Website link -

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Are JianHao and Naomi Together? (Singapore Youtube Sensations)

JianHao and Naomi are Singapore Youtube Sensations.  Their respective Youtube channels can be found here and here.

This opinion piece, which is purely my speculative opinion, will deal with the issue of whether JianHao and Naomi are together.  This question has intrigued many views of their respective channels, and was even addressed by Naomi in an obtuse way in this Q&A video.

Naomi answers many questions from her fans. 
Naomi and JianHao are Not Together
That would be my punchline.  I think they are good buddies, good friends, but based on the joint videos so far, I would still speculate that they are NOT together.  The rest of this blog post will go into further details on why I think this is the case.

Cheeky Ending
The most cheeky ending of Naomi's Q&A video seem to suggest that they are together.  Why else would JianHao rush out and hug Naomi by the waist when she tried to answer this question?

JianHao giving Naomi a waist hug
But to me, this cheeky ending led me to smell a rat. Here are the reasons why.

Naomi answers questions directly
1. Naomi answered many questions directly and even courageously.  I appreciate her honesty in answering the question on her virginity.  Hence, I did not think that it was like her to shy away from this question.  If she were together with him, she would give us a straight answer.

Cheeky waist hug has entertainment value
2. But why the cheeky hug at the end?  Well, this is entertainment in the social media.  Fun to do such a thing and seem to imply that they are together, when they are actually not.

Which boyfriend hugs his girlfriend like that anyway?
3. This part is purely my opinion, but I don't think guys will charge in to grab their girlfriends by the waist like this.  It just looks, strange.

Alright, so based on this video, I came to some kind of conclusion.  However I decided to view JianHao's latest video to see if I can find other clues.  I'd be first to admit that this part is a bit more touchy-feely, based on what I can see and sense from the video.  So, take it with a pinch of salt.

Proposal was weak and insincere
In this scene, I did not find the proposal by JianHao to Naomi to get attached to be very sincere. From what I can tell in all his other videos, JianHao is a pretty good actor.  Hence, to me, it was quite telling that his proposal was kinda weak. Maybe deliberately so, I am not sure.
A weak proposal.

No love vibes
Again, in this scene, I did not get the vibes that JianHao was in love with Naomi.  In fact, he looked rather lacklustre.  Naomi, on the other hand, pulled it off quite well.
Not very convincing either. 

No love vibes, again
Now, this was a good scene.  The couple looked very relaxed and they were clearly enjoying each other's company. Yet, beyond this comfort with each other, I don't detect sufficient attraction and love in their body language.  Good pals, yes.  Lovers, not really.
They are good buddies, no doubt about that. 

A painfully embarrassing jibe 
In this scene, JianHao was making fun of Naomi's fart to Watermelon Head.  I found it rather painful. Funny, yes, but painful.  No boyfriend would shame his girlfriend like that, even if they were told to act in a Youtube movie.  But JianHao could carry this off most easily, simply because they are not a couple.  Just acting out a script.   I found this a trend in other parts of the video where JianHao was making fun of Naomi.
Oh, this is really mean.
Naomi may not be attracted to JianHao
I think JianHao is not the type of guy that Naomi is attracted to.  Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with JianHao.  Rather, it is Naomi's preference for the type of guy.  I guess that Naomi is looking for a slightly older and maybe even more boring type of guy , all of which would complement her bubbly personality.

In conclusion, I think JianHao has probably another lady that he loves.  It shows in his acting.  He won't be able to demonstrate to Naomi the type of love he shows his true love.

In all likelihood, Naomi is single.

Guys, there is hope for you.  But remember, she is looking for men with substance.

Thanks for reading.

Affair alert - Low Chek Kian with Hong Kong model

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Battle for Merger - Foreword by Mr Lee Kuan Yew

Well worth a read, this foreword.  Let me try to summarize the main points.

1. In 1961-62,  PAP Government was in a precarious position, and the future of Singapore hung in the balance.

2. Merger with Malaya had always been part of the PAP platform.  We needed a common market, access to Malaysian hinterland and also basic supplies like water. The idea of a sovereign and independent Singapore was an idea that did not have widespread currency.

3.The political winds at that time were blowing strongly to the left, especially with the rise of the Soviet Union and Communist China.  Large swathes of Chinese educated ground had little confidence in the long-term prospects of a moderate, socialist PAP.

4.The Communists had stirred up anti-merger sentiments, with their trade union proxies, and broke off from the PAP in 1961.

5. The PAP needed a compelling message, delivered in a way that would linger and make an impression.  There was no Internet, no social media, and not even TV back then.  So Mr Lee chose radio.  This was how most people got their news then.

6. In opening each talk, Mr Lee chose to break down the arguments in terms that the layman of 1960s could understand. No jargon, no rhetoric. He took care to speak calmly.

7. In exposing the Communists, Mr Lee revealed facts that were not previously known, and their behind-the-scenes machinations. This held the interest of the audience, as with Mr Lee's practice of ending each session with a cliffhanger, giving a hint of what he would disclose in the next episode.

8.The revelations made particularly about the Communists caused a stir.  Some political figures named were incensed, but there were no libel suits, because Mr Lee had the facts on his side.

9.The radio speeches were only the opening salvo in the Battle for Merger, but their effectiveness was a key reason why the referendum went in PAP's favour.

10. People may ask, what would happen to Singapore if the Barisan Sosialis had won. The PAP and its supporters would have been liquidated.  In all likelihood, Singapore would not have made it.

A sombering message from our Founding Father on the history of modern Singapore.  Good to ponder upon.

It is most fascinating to me, a student of history and IR, that all this is being discussed now. During my Uni days, we had studied extensively about modern international history, from WWII onwards as well as the Cold War. Finally, I can start to fit what was happening in Singapore during those tumultuous times in the world.

All the events in the world concerning the Cold War and the all the proxy wars between the Communists and the West were studied and debated upon. I have relatives in China who survived the Cultural Revolution under Mao [1966], and their stories were really scary.

I guess it is safe to say that we were close into becoming a Communist Singapore.

Thanks for reading.

For something a bit more light-hearted, check out why I think JianHao and Naomi, Singapore's youtube sensations, are not together.