Wednesday, April 26, 2006

ECT: one year on.

ECT - the abbreviation that was formed by ronald - has been used for 3 years and it took on another meaning a year ago. One year on, life is pretty much the same, in fact, it just got busier day by day, but thanx to e my life has been filled with laughter and happiness.

e is an amazing and special character that entered my life about 7 years ago, but the story only started last year. e has the ability to make people laugh with her adorable expressions and multi-role personality. she takes on many roles, like a shoe whore, a cat, a roaring lion, lumpy's mother who fell over the window, a dying cockroach, the worm in my stomach, the old cow, the lamb who was silenced and many more. all these roles are the exceptional gifts in her and they never fail to brighten up my day. i guess for most people, they would think that these acts are childish or eccentric, but it's just so heartwarming to immerse in the little fun of it. e definitely not the prettiest nor the cutiest being around, but she is definitely adorable in her own right; she has a charm in her character and mannerisms that never fail to liven people's lives. thank you e. and do not think that e is gullible, she is smarter than you think. she is able to finish reading 4 novels in a day, know the workings of an economy and knows where the best deals are in town and the coolest online accessories and apparels stores. we are currently embarking on the 'yuppies's life'. though we do not have the money to live in a loft nor drive a z4, but we definitely like to explore the under-discovered parts of singapore. it feels good to plod down ann siang road, club road, or even the serene parts of upper pierce, with occasional dining at up-class boutique restaurants (of course we had discount coupons with us) like space @ my humble house, fish market @ greenwood and occasional viewing of concerts.

our dream will continue, we hope to be avid explorers and travellers, discovering singapore and conquering the world. of course, we will conquer it with lumpy.

- eccentricity. the main force of life. love it. live it. -

Saturday, April 22, 2006

it's all the work of the boss up there...

i went training this morning and coached the jumpers too. too bad that david had to attend to the a gals, if not i would love to see yi tian clearing her pb again. well, she is quite talented in clearing 1.32m for a fresh tracker. I guess it wouldn't be a problem for her to squeeze into top 8 during nationals under the tutelage of david or terence. As for jasmin, i guess if she is able to combine both her power and techniques, she should be able to clinch a place in top 8 for long jump. kyle has the bounce and the height to make it into top 8 if he really trains hard. I guess these are the 3 potential talents for hcis now and i would really love to see them achieving it.

chatted with chen lao shi in the midst of training too. he asked me if i'm going nus or overseas for studies and my reply was "not sure" (after yesterday's interview) he was sharing with me his miraculous story of how god has led him through his education; how he wanted to go poly but ended up in hc cuz he failed his english and couldn't get into his diploma course; how the availbility of psc moe schship was made known to him by the principal and how he thought he had screwed up the interview and his A levels (A,B,C), but in the end he was awarded the schship. What he wanted was to go poly but god gave him a better path. Similarly, although i felt quite good after yesterday's lck schship interview (felt even better than wesleyan's), i decided not to think so much about it and let god decide if i deserve a schship and the place of education that suits me the best. However, i just like to say that the questions asked were so close to my heart that i was able to open up and share with them, it is really unlike other interviews where they ask you the same mundane questions. Like what chen lao shi shared, in retrospect, i have been very blessed with all the gifts and guidance god has given me; from my appeal to chinese high, to being brought up and down in life and in track. in fact, i can say that my life has been full of miracles till this present day. miracles do not need to be earthbreaking or magical, they can be as simple as talking to an old friend, but the effect can be a multiplier.

being a bridesmaid or bride may be important now, but it may not be as important in future. there are many paths to success and there are also many variations of success. does success equal to managing a team of 1000 people under you or does it equal to serving a 1000 people around you?

only you will have the answer.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Slow Reader

It takes me about 2 hours to finish reading the whole of straits times and I'm only at pg 80 of The World is Flat since I started reading last week. Its time for me to improve my reading speed.

A Foreign Policy Reflection.

Came across this interesting article in Straits Times review today.

US foreign policy: Between idealism and realism
By George Friedman

IRAN says it has enriched uranium. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is claiming that Shia in Sunni states are traitors to their countries. The French are in political and economic gridlock.
With all these urgent things going on, it is time to talk of something important, something that has driven and divided American politics for centuries and will continue to do so: the argument between those who have been called idealists and those who have been labelled realists in US foreign policy.
When the United States was in its infancy, France experienced a revolution that was in many ways similar to the American Revolution. Some Americans wanted to support the French revolutionaries, arguing that the US had to pursue its moral ideals and stand by its moral partner. Others pointed out that the American economy was heavily dependent on Britain, the major market for American goods. Moreover, the young country relied on its ability to send exports to Europe, and the waters were controlled by Britain.
Whatever moral inclinations the Americans might have had towards France, prudence required that they not take on Britain. The idealists tried to frame their arguments strategically and the realists tried to create a moral cast for their argument, but the problem, in the end, was simple: America's survival depended on not alienating a country that was everything the colonists had fought against.
This argument has constantly torn apart American thinking about foreign policy. Consider this example from the more recent past: In World War II, the US was allied with the Soviet Union, which was ruled by genocidal maniac Josef Stalin. At the time that the US allied with Stalin, Adolf Hitler was only beginning to climb into Stalin's class of killer.
There were those who argued that the alliance with Stalin was a betrayal of every principle Americans stood for. Others, like Franklin Roosevelt, recognised that unless the US allied with Stalin, Hitler would likely win the war.
Those who opposed an alliance with Stalin based on moral ideals certainly had an excellent point - but those who argued that, apart from an alliance with the devil, the Republic might not survive, also had an excellent point.
Consider a final example. In 1972, the US appeared to be a declining power. It was losing the war in Vietnam and its position globally appeared to be deteriorating. The Soviet Union had split from China years before, and the confrontation along their frontier had, on occasion, been bloody. War was possible. Richard Nixon created an entente with the Chinese that was designed to encircle the Soviet Union. In retrospect, the strategy worked. However, in establishing relations with Mao Zedong's China, the US once again aligned itself with a murderous regime. The alternative was an unstoppable Soviet regime.

A shallow prudence
IN EACH of these cases, the US confronted this dilemma. On one side was the argument that unless the US stood for its moral ideals, it would survive but lose its soul. Siding with Britain, Stalin, or Mao, might have been prudent, but it was a shallow prudence that would eliminate the raison d'etre for the American regime.
On the other side was the argument that there could be no moral regime unless there was a regime. The US did not have the strength to resist, on its own, Britain, Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Without such questionable allies, the moral project would be impossible because the US either would not survive, or would survive as a spent force.
It is important to note that these arguments cut across political and even ideological grounds. In 1972, people on the left celebrated Nixon's alliance with Mao, and it was the right wing which raised moral doubts. Of course, many on the right supported Nixon and some on the left, not taken by the romance of Maoism, were appalled at the alignment.
Similarly, it was the left in World War II which wanted an alliance with the Soviets, and Winston Churchill - far from a leftist - stood with them. In other words, the debate has never been an ideologically coherent argument. It has been all over the place.
The current incarnation of this argument concerns the US-jihadist war, and the ideological complexity is clear.
There are two flavours of idealists here. First, there are those who argue that, in waging its war against the jihadists, the US should never do anything that will violate basic principles of human rights - and that it should avoid alliances with states that are themselves oppressive. So, for example, some argue that working closely with Saudi Arabia, a kingdom they regard as antithetical to US moral standards, is unacceptable.
There are also those who argue that the primary reason for going to war in the Middle East is to create democracies.
There are two sorts of idealists here. There are the neo-conservatives - some of whom sincerely believe the pro-democracy argument, and others who have adopted it as a justification for military campaigns they supported for other reasons. But alongside the neo-conservatives, there are liberals who argue that the protection of 'human rights' - often used interchangeably with 'democracy' - should be the primary justification for any war. Recall liberal support for the Kosovo war.
On the other side of the rhetorical divide are those who make two arguments.
The first is that - as in the historical cases involving Britain, the Soviet Union and China - the practical reality is that the US must always work with allies when fighting in the Eastern Hemisphere, and that those allies will frequently be morally repugnant to Americans. So whatever you may think of the Saudis' view of women, an alliance with Saudi Arabia has been indispensable in fighting the war against Al-Qaeda, regardless of whether the later Iraq campaign was justified.
In other words, the argument for alliance in the past remains valid today.
This is extended to the argument that the US should have as its goal the creation of democracy in the Middle East.
The counter-argument goes like this: Democracy in the Middle East may be, in some moral sense, a good idea, but American power - though enormous - is not infinite. The jihadists in Iraq and elsewhere have not been crushed, and the US needs regional allies. The Americans, the logic goes, cannot simultaneously seek alliance and try to overthrow regimes.

A large sword
THE idealist argument - that a country that pursues only its physical and economic security will lose its moral foundation - is not a frivolous argument.
At a certain point, the pursuit of security requires the pursuit of power, and the pursuit of power is corrupting. At the same time, pursuing justice without a sufficiently large sword will get you whipped. And staying out of the fight does not mean that the fight won't come to you. The American moral project can be lost in two ways: through opportunistic corruption or through annihilation.
Politicians do not have the luxury of contemplating the paradox of being. They must make decisions, and inaction is very much a decision.
George Washington decided that safety trumped political principle and broadly steered clear of the French revolutionary regime. Franklin Roosevelt saw the path to preserving democracy through alliance with Stalin. Nixon swallowed political principle by flying to Beijing.
In retrospect, it is very difficult to see how any of them could have chosen differently. A doctrine emerges in looking at these three examples: the pursuit of political principles is possible only when one is willing to look at the long term; the near term requires ruthless and unsentimental compromise.
Had the idealist demand that the US never work with oppressive nations been honoured, Hitler might well have won World War II. The pursuit of democracy that forces the US beyond its military and political resources will ultimately weaken democracy. Moral demands that are not rooted in political and military reality achieve the opposite of the desired end.
But the realist position also has its weakness. Sometimes being ruthless becomes an end in itself. Sometimes the defence of the national interest becomes a justification for defending one's own interest.
These are not simple matters but, as noted, politicians do not have time to contemplate them for very long. Their natural inclination is to act and the action they gravitate towards is the pursuit of power. It is interesting to note that the president most often associated with the pursuit of human rights, Abraham Lincoln, was - in the course of its pursuit - a ruthless violator of those rights. No one violated constitutional protections more systematically than Lincoln and no one was more dedicated to those protections. The paradox, however, is simply solved: The path from point A to point B is almost never a straight line. Anyone who heads in a straight line will fail. This is a lesson that is equally applicable to the neo-conservatives and Amnesty International.

Pirouette between factions
THIS discussion becomes important now because the US is pirouetting between factions in the Islamic world. The US won World War II by pragmatically taking advantage of the totalitarian states and allying with Stalin. The US won the Cold War by taking advantage of a split between Communist states and allying with China. And, viewed from a high level, the US is in the process of trying to win the jihadist war by taking advantage of the split between Sunnis and Shia and allying with Iran.
There are excellent moral arguments in favour of fighting a war to bring democracy to Iraq. There are excellent moral arguments for never having gotten involved in Iraq in the first place. There are excellent moral arguments for not having gotten into Desert Storm - against having based troops in Saudi Arabia and making Al-Qaeda furious with the US in the first place.
From all directions, the world is filled with outstanding moral arguments, and they have their place.
But first there is the reality that exists now. The US has too many enemies and too few forces through which to impose its will. As in World War II and the Cold War, splitting the enemy is a practical imperative that precedes all moral imperatives. In this case, that means playing off the various factions within the Muslim world and making the best deal possible with one power or another. In any deal, the US will wind up allied with someone that the Americans disapprove of, much as their future ally will disapprove of them.
The US may well wind up making a deal with Iran over Iraq. Alternatively, a Sunni coalition led by Saudi Arabia might give Washington the opportunity to negotiate with the Baathist guerillas in the Sunni Triangle. Whichever path is followed, it will be condemned by both left and right for dozens of excellent moral reasons.
US President George W. Bush has been pursuing the path of pragmatism, however clumsily or adroitly, for months now. He will make a deal with someone because going it alone is not an option. The current situation in Iraq cannot be sustained, and all presidents ultimately respond to reality. Mr Bush might have to eat some words about democracy and the US' commitment thereto, but if Roosevelt could speak of the Four Freedoms while working with Stalin, all things are possible.

Copyright: Strategic Forecasting Inc

Friday, April 14, 2006

5 Misses in 15 Minutes

It all occured between 20:05 and 20:20.

Miss #1: Cycling across the left filter lane ignoring my car's movements
Miss #2: Running across the traffic junction when the pedestrian signs were red
Miss #3: Running across the road from the front of a bus
Miss #4: Cycling against traffic in the middle of a two lane road
Miss #5: Running across the road from the center divider

All these near misses could have led to injuries or maybe fatalities and ultimately. Drivers, please drive carefully but more importantly, pedestrians and cyclist, share the road wisely.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

a debut.

i guess everytime when i start posting an entry will be on track, but anw i decided to post an entry cuz apparently my website is not ready yet and it's time for some ranting again. life has been pretty much the same, or rather busier if i were to be specific as compared to my good old days in school or saf.

The only difference is that money is part of the time equation now, which can be quite a good motivation. But is it really the main source of motivation? I was chatting with e and we came to a conclusion that if a person who doesn't know what he or she wants in life, the easiest path to pick would be the route to wealth and 'happiness'.

For those who do not know where or what i am doing now, i am currently relief teaching in hwa chong international. for those who might think that it is a subsidary school, it is not. it is an independent and private school, which renders it a business organisation. the school fees are 15k a year for a student, which adds up to 60k in 4 years and that is enough for me to complete my undergrad studies in nus 2.5 times!! what a brilliant social entrepreneurship movement by the school. Similarly I came to a conclusion that it is not that difficult in getting into a US university. With a humble SAT score, the world's most powerful man actually managed to get obtain a degree from Yale. Answer: you got to have money. It's true, even with a place in a university, you need money to get into it. Well, I have been contemplating the idea of loaning 120k to study in Cincinnati, but I guess that it is not really a wise thing to do. Ultimatly, a bachelors is not the end point for me and the school is not great enough to me to take that risk.

Oh well, I'm back to training again, it feels refreshing after being in the doldrums for the past 2 years. I managed to clear 6.1m after 2 trainings and it is the furthest leap in two years. However, this is still far from my target. What is my target? What am I training for? I guess i'm just training for fun now and for memory, to enjoy the feeling of being a student again. I seriously do not foresee the possiblity of a full committment in training when i start school. Training for me has taken on a new meaning, a new discovery. I was introduced with some refreshing ideas and training techniques. Sir (aka mr yeo) has been commenting that I am making loads of fundamental errors in body control and this actually translate into dialy life activities. The lack of courage and the problem of hesitation is causing me not to perform back and side flips properly. The lack of focus and control over my legs is causing me not to convert my run up to a jump smoothly. The way in overcoming it is not only by training more, but also to curb these problems in my daily life. It works in a cycle, if I can curb these problems during training, I will be less likely to fumble in my life. On the other hand, if I can be very focused in my work, I will be able to perform during training.

It's back to work...