Saturday, July 31, 2004

BBC NEWS | Business | World trade talks reach agreement

I blogged about the demise of the Cancun trade talks quite a while back. It's good that an agreement has been reached no matter how tentative and how much more negotiation will have to take place. After all, the Uruguary Round in 1994 came years after negotiations to transform what had been know as GATT (General Agreeement on Trade and Tarrifs) into the WTO we all know and (I) love today.

While it is indeed good that agricultural export subsidies will be cut, one hopes that this might be the beginning of the end for the CAP (Common Agricultural Program) in its current form. After all, it has the singular distinction of not meeting a single bit of any its proposed aims e.g. preservation of the countryside, small scale farming etc. Insteed it costs the EU billions of euros in higher food prices, the money goes to the big firms instead of the small rural farmers, it poisons the land because of over intensive farming in inappropriate places and it keeps the LDCs poor because their basic comparitive advantage is in agriculture. Question of the day: Why is foreign aid good but not imports?

Indeed one hopes that it might go further and truely bring in the rest of the so-called Singapore Issues (so named after the issues brought up when the WTO was in town) and in particular making it easier for the movement of capital and investment around the world.


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

BBC NEWS | Americas | Boy wins 'divorce' from father

A happy ending? I suppose on the basic level, for Patrick Holland, it is.

On a more legalistic level, I was admittedly very curious on how it would have played out if his ex-father has contested for his parental rights. This is especially so when (see yesterday's blog link for the background to this case) it seems that the 'social services people said it was the law'.

Admittedly, I'm no lawyer and all the family law stuff I learned from Judging Amy but if a parent is negligent to the child, the state can remove the his/her parental rights and the child to a foster home at its discretion. As such, why should this case be different? I acknowledge that by law, a child under ten is not considered to be able to express him/herself and as logic would dictate, by the conclusion of the trial, Patrick would still be under ten (unless the trial had dragged on for more than two years). Even so, surely he might have made some move to protest and his legal guardians could have aided in this respect. And why oh why didn't the Massachusetts Department of Correction step in earlier and recommand that the parental rights not be conceeded in the first place?

Paul? Hui Fen? Any answers?

Monday, July 26, 2004

BBC NEWS | Americas | Boy's historic bid to 'divorce' father

A very fascinating and sad account. I wonder if this is similar to 'disowning' a child.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

*On Gay Rights*

I give up. It has come to a point whereby I cannot see any conceivable reason to deny homosexual EQUAL rights. I mean, by the pan-dimensional deities, why should any rational society deny them the right to work without bias in the military (Singaporean context here people) or within the Civil Service. Why should anyone's sexual orientation bar him or her from the same economic, social or judicial rights of the majority? Especially when one considers that not a single shred of proof can be shown of societal/3rd party harm.

After all, they is no evidence or study that shows that at work or studies, homosexuals are any better or worse in terms of performance than heterosexuals. So as such, how would it be fair to discriminate against them? Time, I say, to pass anti-discrimination laws. After all, just insert the word, 'of sexual orientation' into Article 12 of our Constitution and we're basically done (okay fine, we need to change the penal code and the woman's charter and a couple more things besides but the idea still stands)

This is perfect example of a perato optimal move. You give rights to a substantial minority without infringing on that of the majority. How much more optimal could that be?!!!! Short of an argument that relies of sematics (like marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman) or an appeal to deities (God/s has/have decreed that homosexuality is bad) that seems to be no other rational explaination.

I mean, let's take the first, that marriage is defined thus and thus it is so (In the Beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God). What's the assumptions made in this assertion? One, that marriage is about children. Which, as we know, is no longer true in our Asian society, much less the Western ones. Once financial independence is reached, children are an act of love, not economic necessity and many people don't want children, whether by choice or accident. Are we then going to force an annulment on them? Throw them into jail why don't we? Or perhaps as a precautionary measure, we should be writing into the ROM contract that in order to marry, one must sign on the dotted line that they will have sex to get kids?

So now that we accept that marriage is not about children but more about a contract (sorry, I'm using it in a pseudo-legal fashion here) between two loving consenting adults, why deny marriage to homosexuals?

So, on to the second bit. That you argue that homosexuality is 'bad' because it is 'unnatural' (so are organ transplants and blood donations...oops...right, the Jehova's Witness think they are). This is a tough argument. I mean, this goes beyond rationality and into ideology. And the better arguments go that people think in this fashion, so don't rock the boat. I think on some level, this belief is ground in the idea that homosexuals will probably do less damage in campaigning for rights that the religious extremist will campaigning against it. But I say, that's what the army is for!!!!! Give me my M203 and I'll show those religious freaks to whatever afterlife they believe in and they can go chat with their deity!!! More seriously though, the duty of the government is not to simply give in to the will of the majority (Two words: Heil Hitler...totalatarianism, that's what the tyranny of the majority means) but to ensure minority rights within a concept of majority rule.

After all, the onus is on the opposition to prove that it is right and fair NOT to grant them equal rights instead of the other way round.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Zany Video Game Quotes: Sniffing Miss Tron's Bed Since 1998

Remember the (in)famous quote that sparked a cult following: "All your bases are belong to us"?

*Snigger*...for a dose of fun and laughter and just plain all round unintentionally bad translation, click on the link above.

You won't regret it I promise...=)

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq kidnappings stun Kenya press

Are we really surprised by this turn of events? Terrorist are evil, enough said. There has never been, and never will be a justification for terrorism.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

*New Link Up and My 100th Blog Post*

Self explainatory...=)

Might post something on the People's Republic of China and their communist party CCP (or should that be Chinese Capitalist Party?) with particular regards to the fiasco with our future PM if I ever get around to doing it and not sitting in from of the tv watching Oliver's Twist and ilk...

Monday, July 19, 2004

Singapore Parliamentary Bills

Do your part for the nation! Be an active and politically aware citizen! Know what our democratically elected parliament has introduced in our names! Make Singapore a better place, A Progressive Society (courtesy of NDP 2004)!


Saturday, July 17, 2004

US and drug giants not villains in Aids crisis - JULY 17, 2004

Now this is a seriously good article. If nothing else, it should prove a nice counter balance to all the stuff that's been put up by the various activist. Strikingly similar to the anti-globalist I say.

Is there room for improvement? Of course there is. Start off simply with Messr Bush's rather misguided attempt to tie AIDS aid to programs that promote abstinience first and particularly emphasize on the inefficacies of and the uselessness of condom and contraceptive use (See Focus on the Family, did a little write up on them in one of my older blog pieces). I mean first off, logic: Many of these societies don't subscribe to the same judeo-christian thinking on pre-marital sex and even if they do, I think it's time for the religious right to pull their heads out of the sand and consider reality today. Secondly, facts: All of it basically points to evidence that the programs that are most successful at the very least places as much importance on condom use (the ABC program has condoms in it at least), statistical modeling has been done to show that condom use was instrumental in bring down the infection and incident rate of AIDS in there...

Next, Generic Drugs. Are there better? Should be, after all, it's pretty much chemically the same. Besides which, generic drugs have two major advantages to them over the proprietry ones. One, cost, generics win hands down, not least because pills are cheap to make and all the research has already been done by the big pharmas. Two, simplicity, two pills a day, instead of the cocktail of six over varying timeframes. The problem is that the rather substantial money the US is pouring in is used to purchase proprietry drugs pending approval of the generic ones by the FDA which does make some sense, after all, would you give someone else something you yourself would not take? Admirably but a little misguided IMHO.

Intellectual Property Rights. The pharmas have got a seriously bad deal out of this. Yes, compulsory licensing is a part of IP and yes many of these nations have a health crisis. But I seriously wonder whether pharmas will develop any drugs that could cure or alleviate 3rd world problems? After all, spend $900 million (most drugs take about this amount to develop, taking into account failures as well) to develop a cure of aids and next thing you know, the nations start screaming 'national health crisis' under TRIPs and *poof* generic drug companies copy it and make all the profits. And where will the pharmas be?

I mean, why not do a patent buyout if the world is really so concerned? You protect IP and encourage the golden goose to lay more eggs. Besides which, whose responsibility is it anyway? The 1st World? The pharmas? 3rd World governments? UN?

Tuesday, July 13, 2004 - Manila begins Iraq troop pullout - Jul 13, 2004

I suppose I am a little surprised considering that Manila (like Bulgaria) has till recently pushed the line that it would not give in to the kidnapper's demands. After all, what is the point of being part of the 'coalition of the willing' should it seem that the nation is ready to be taken hostage? To be fair, Manila is planning to withdraw the troops and this merely pushes it a month forward. However, the perception would be that Manila has in effect appeased the terrorist. After all, why else would the terrorist bother with such a demand, if all they were 'simply' concerned about was the withdrawal of the troops? Yes, we have to accept that the life of a civilian and his family is at stake but at the same time, we have to balance that against the aims and prestige of the nation of Phillipines as well as that of its soldiers. Eventually, the question is raised wherein lies the purpose of the withdrawal?

What would be some of the reasons a nation might consider given the undertaking of joining the Coalition in the liberation of Iraq? One, there's always altruism and the unity of the brother and sisterhood of mankind. If so, surely the safety and security of the people and state of Iraq should be measure against the possible life of a citizen. And even if arguments were made that 53 boots on the ground would not make any concrete improvements or that it is simply a rescheduling of a planned withdrawal, then firstly, why was this not done in the first place but was instead the reaction to a terrorist atrocity, secondly, what about its impact on existing humanitarian aid? The very act of pulling out, especially in conjunction with the hostage taking merely adds to the long list of injustices perpetuated by the International Jihadist Organisations, which coupled with the pullout by Spain, merely proves to them the 'weaknesses' of democracies and the benefits of divide and rule. And considering that troops have been sent to what is effectively a combat zone, then why the dicotomy between the possibility of the loss of the life of a soldier which Manila had sent on its orders and that of a civilian who has gone there willingly, or at least without some form of governmental coersion?

So let's consider the self interest of a nation in going into Iraq. Considerations raised would range from the need to enage the current hegemon and staying on its good side to considerations of geopolitics and the world's addiction to oil to the need to combat the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons of mass (heck even local) destruction. If so, then the importance of a safe, stable and (hopefully) democratic Iraq becomes ever the more important, especially as a bulwark to the more extremist and radical elements in the region (of which I think OPEC qualifies). Bringing the question to a more domestic level would lead to puzzlement especially when one considers the problems Manila has been having with its own Muslim seperatist in the Southern islands, which very likely, has links to the broader terrorist organisations. It thus becomes even more bewildering that Manila would make any move that could conceivably weaken its hand the next time a standoff occurs between it and organisations like Abu Sayif, especially since Manila has had always taken a very firm stance against them, even to the point of refusing to negotiate with them regarding hostages. Another domestic issue raised here is simply that analogies wtih Spain are quite dissimilar in that the war was never quite an election issue for either the government of the oppostion, or that elections were to be forthcoming (they've just ended and it looks like the incumbent President Arroyo has won) or that the people are likely to take to the streets yet again in an effort to 'impeach' the president. But on the flip side, Phillipines' international prestige looks set to take a hit. We already know that the Bush administration has come out expressing regret and this would surely detract from the moral courage and contributions that Manila has done thus far. And furthermore, it would seem likely that nations would consider any future Filipino alliance or alleigence in a slightly sour light.

I think, it is time to reinforce the fact that this is a war, one fought not just with conventional weapons and targets (and unfortunately, unconventional ones as well) but as well as one being fought on an ideological plane, a battle for the 'hearts and minds' of peace and freedom loving people everywhere.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

*On NS and 2 years of services*

The announcement that NS was going to be reduced to two years did little to help me considering that it came exactly one working day after my ORD (for the gals out there, it means an end to my fulltime slavery...ahem, I mean service to the nation).

But despite that, the news seriously cheered me up. One, it means my brother and people of his batch no longer have to suffer through two and a half years of gods knows what the heck we're doing here kind of mentality. Two, the gender disparity has been reduced and I hope that companies would be gracious enough to reduce the difference in pay scales now (although admittedly, the discrepancy in terms of years of education missed is still similar).

Most importantly, three, the regulars who have not been doing the work that they've been paid to do are now finally made to get off their butts and actually do some *gasp* real work because the NSF who have been covering and slaving for them are gone. Hah! Lazy parasites on taxpayers have finally been slapped awake with the realisation that the SAF doesn't revolve around them. They deserve all the pain and torment that they're currently suffering.

Vindictive? Yup. Taking of malicious glee in their plight? Oh yea...=)

Friday, July 09, 2004

*And then reality hits*

Realisation dawns on me. I've just agreed to teach a group of primary one to three students on Creative English Writing tomorrow. And I've absolutely no idea what I'm going to do.

I mean seriously now. These kids are expected to write little compositions of around a hundred words. And the entire 'essay' writes itself because they have this four panals and a bunch of words they can use to guide them for the composition.'s the creativity suppose to come from? Or rather wherein lies the creativity of the compo?

I mean seriously now, could you imagine talking to them about the need to arrest the audience's imagination in the open paragraph, when all they really need to do is write one freakin' paragraph?

Ah well...sigh...probably be back to basics then, sentence structure and grammar.

Excellence Through Basics. BMTC!!!!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

*Links Fixed and OG Outing*

First things first, link to Isobel's blog has been fixed...seems I added an extra '/'...*sigh*...computers and literalness.

Anyway, Law Camp OG went to East Coast Park today for lunch and psuedo outdoorish activities. And so it was with apprehension that I hauled my gluteus maximus (i.e. my butt) onto a bicycle. Unfortunately it wasn't your single seater because I foolishly volunteered to ride tanderm with an OG mate of my who was not comfortable on a bike.

Ye gods, it's been too long since my lower extremities have touch pedals of any sort and my metacarpals the handles. And I feel pretty bad giving her quite a scare as I attempted to kick off the bike. In my defense, albeit weak, the weight distribution was different due to the enlongated frame, but time erodes some skills... But in the end, it all ended well and I realised that I had forgotten what it was like to enjoy cycling. I think my NS time helped cause the fear of falling and injuring myself was gone which mean no more death grip on the handles and no more wobling off into oblivion, or at least the trees like I used to.

Many many thanks too to my tanderm partner for helping with the cycling and a wonderful conversation that ranged aptly enough for those who know me into politics, religion and philosophy. So yes, conversation on Christianity, Buddhism, American Presidential Election 2004 and the prospect of Jeb Bush Versus Hilary Clinton in 2008. Oh yes and on the prospects of Colin Powell in '08.

Anyway, I realised that I would like to go back and spend a good day cycling. Anyone interested? Yes, particularly the guys don't get enough fresh air as it is...


p.s. Anyone can help me with my pool stance? I've been finding it real hard to cue striaght...

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

*New Links and Tag Board Up*

New link to law senior and HC junior of my...Isobel. Check her blog out. There's a picture of me there but don't believe what she wrote about me.....way too flattering...


MOOREWATCH - Watching Michael Moore's every move

Michael Moore Breaking News!

Heh...cute sites.

I'm going to declare this very publically. I don't like Michael Moore and I seriously hated his book (Stupid White Men). But I might watch his movie just for laughs.

On a similar vein, I seriously dislike Rush Limbaugh too (and his book The Way Things Ought to Be, to be fair to Mr Moore). He and Moore are basically the flip side of the same coin; Political pundits and I will use the word here very very loosely who don't care about rational debate but more about browbeating others into submission to their ideology. Facts are secondary to what they perceive as the truth and that is ultimately harmful to discourse and politics.

The moderates have died because they have allow extremist on both sides of the fence to highjack the agenda of truth and democracy. You cannot have democracy where debate is a bad word, where changing your mind when the facts change is seen as a cowardly submission rather than the act of a rational person.

*Sigh*...well at least they have discourse over there.....

Saturday, July 03, 2004

*Back From Law Camp*

Self explainatory...=) As well as the explaination on why I haven't updated it recently.

It was a blast though. Got to know more people (and potential rivals to remove before term starts heh heh). Not too many scandals too.