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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Enlightening encounters with service angels

A special feature on service

Lynette Koh

Good service should never come at a cost.

In the course of checking out service standards at various retail outlets for this series (as well as my own extensive non-investigative shopping trips), I have found that a store's price tags are seldom commensurate to its level of service.

Some of the most polite and helpful sales people can be found in clothing stores where prices rarely go above a hundred dollars; and some of the most clueless and curt sales assistants are found in stores where prices rarely dip below it.

The most exceptional examples of service, in fact, can be free, as one of my colleagues, who we shall call Jane, discovered on a ravenous evening several months ago.

Having seized a window of opportunity to grab dinner at a nearby fast food outlet after 8pm — and hours of nonstop work — she had ordered an upsized meal costing about $8, and was about to pay for it when she realised that she had left her wallet at her desk.

Crestfallen and hungrier than ever, Jane prepared to make the ten-minute trek back to the office to get her wallet.

Sensing her distress, however, the server manning the counter unhesitatingly told her she could return the next day to pay for her meal.

Torn between not wanting to take advantage of his kind gesture, and the allure of the food which lay before her, Jane recalled how she had made several half-hearted protests.

Eventually succumbing to the hunger pangs, however, Jane thanked him and promised to return at the earliest opportunity to pay for her meal.

Unfortunately, however, she never saw him at the outlet again, and subsequently, our office moved away from the area.

Even as she got over her feelings of guilt towards the free meal, Jane remained profoundly moved by the server's unreserved gesture of kindness.

My own experience with similarly exceptional service, while not free, was certainly discounted.

I have long nursed a tendency to take more taxis than is fiscally advisable, as well as a chronic inability to make the trip to an automated teller machine even when I am down to my last dollar (or less).

And the increasing number of taxis outfitted with Nets and credit card processing facilities has only served to increase my disregard towards having sufficient amounts of cash in my wallet — which led to my recent cab-related panic.

After work, I had hopped into a cab, unthinkingly as usual, distracted by thoughts of dinner options.

It only hit me halfway through my journey that I was in a taxi that had no credit card or Nets facilities. I had a little over $7 and the journey from the office to town would typically cost about $10.

After rummaging through my bag for five minutes — and losing any hope of finding a forgotten, not-empty ang bao deep in its recesses – I confessed to the taxi driver, asking sheepishly to alight only as far as the seven dollars would take me.

Instead of making sneering noises and throwing me out of his cab at the next traffic junction, as I half-expected, the cabby simply asked me how much money I had.

Amazingly, his jolly demeanour remained unchanged even after I confessed, as he drove on towards town.

"It's okay, lah," he said, adding that it was difficult to get a cab at that time of the day.

Waving off my promises to pay him the balance at a later date, the driver told me about other passengers' similar cash-short situations, which occurred from time to time.

Said the driver good-naturedly: "I just tell them, if you can, donate the money to charity."

My embarrassment faded as he continued making friendly chatter for the last 10 minutes of the journey.

As I neared my destination, I asked the cabby: "When a passenger says that she doesn't have enough money, how do you know if it's true?"

With a smile, he replied: "I don't – but well, all that happens is that I make a little less money, right?"

From TODAY, Voices – Tuesday, 22-Sep-2009

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Parents root of problem?

Coxford Singlish Dictionary, a published book ...Image via Wikipedia

This article, in itself, speaks of what I wanted to say, so I keep mum. Read on…



Liang Dingzi

THE best thing that has emanated from the annual "Speak Good English" movement is not how important the use of proper English is in today's world, but instead, the truth of how badly our standard of the language has deteriorated.

An old chestnut, the campaign, first launched in 2000, generates the usual round of debates on related issues such as the proliferation of Singlish, recruitment of native speakers as trainers and, more recently, foreign workers with limited command of the language. Unfortunately, like most campaigns, the exercise is as good as it lasts. What next, one may ask.

This year's campaign targets young people. Going by the laments over the years of the declining standard of spoken English here, it is the natural group to target.

The committee rightly recognises the changing environment our youth are experiencing, and aims to engage them "on their terms" - via social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and blogs.

The SMS generation has become careless in their use of the language. Mr Goh Eck Kheng, chairman of the campaign, pointed out the mistaken notion of young people that bad English is acceptable so long as they are understood by their peers. But isn't that what communication is all about, and language is but one of its tools? The end justifies the means, so to speak, however poorly constructed the means?

What our youth do not realise is how this mentality will create a linguistic in-breeding problem that at it's extreme, make us incommunicado with the rest of the world. As it is, much has already been said about the consequences.

The key message of this year's movement is that "good communication skills transcend the use of correct grammar and vocabulary". This is a laudable objective, although I confess that personally I had to struggle with its tagline - "Impress. Inspire. Intoxicate."

However, the initiative seems overly ambitious. Have we overcome the hiccups of retail staff saying "not there mean no got have" and "if got have, you can surely find on the shelf", that we should now be concerned about where they are placing the "but" as to whether it is more proper to say "this dress suits you but it is expensive" or "this dress is expensive but it suits you"?

Each time I ride the train, I quibble internally over whether "priority seat" should accurately be "courtesy seat" since priority connotes a privilege accorded not necessarily to the physically disadvantaged and others who need help, but also to "able" people who are deserving for such reasons as status, affordability and goodwill.

Even "reserved" is not quite right, strictly speaking, unless it means no one who does not qualify to be included in the stated category should occupy the seat. Perhaps we should first look at Phua Chu Kang mixing up his numbers when he says: "Please give up this seat to those who need it."

Indeed, we have a whole lot more walking to do before we can run. It is critical that we take stock of the progress of the campaign from one year to another.

Until we do so, we will not be able to effectively remedy persistent problems and build on the strengths achieved thus far. The movement is not like a carnival, which may assume a completely different and unrelated character each year.

Every campaign in its history is a milestone that marks a significant stage in a continuous process of learning. To move forward, it is necessary to continue the journey from where we left off. That is why it is time we take stock of our progress thus far.

We need to take a hard look at the root of the problem. I cringe when parents speak poorly to their children. The problem is compounded when day-caregivers, kindergarten teachers and sometimes schoolteachers speak as carelessly.

A Today reader put this problem succinctly in a nutshell: "Singapore has a unique phenomenon in that even when Grandma has only 10 words in her English vocabulary, which she pronounces in her Hokkien accent, she chooses to communicate with her grandchild in what she thinks is the English language. The result is an entire generation of kids speaking badly adulterated English."

Ironically, in the days when parents who were not proficient in English would speak to their children only in the mother tongue, the standard of the language was much higher.

The problem will be a hard one to crack, not something that a disparate annual movement can tackle. But, if left unchecked, it can only get worse. That's how a pidgin tongue (Singlish in our case?) evolves as the camel pushes the Arab out of his tent.

The writer has published two books on Singlish among his collection of published works.

From TODAY, News – Tuesday, 22-Sep-2009

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cause and (halo) effect

Shelves of perfumesImage via Wikipedia

To what extent are our purchasing decisions based on the way products are packaged?

If a person is good-looking, does that mean he or she is also honest, kind and intelligent? Any rational individual will tell you the answer is "no".

Good looks have absolutely no relation to one's honesty or intelligence.

However, in real life, when we meet a good-looking person, research has shown that we will assign traits such as intelligence or honesty to the individual.

Researchers call this the halo effect.

The halo effect, a fairly common phenomenon, essentially refers to the tendency to generalize feelings or evaluations of an object, such as the way it looks and its packaging, and associate these evaluations with other aspects of the brand, such as the perception of its quality.

It is a form of cognitive bias prevalent in many aspects of people's lives. It may affect a teacher's judgment of a student's performance, a boss's evaluation of an employee and, of course, consumers' judgments of brands and products.

The halo effect may affect how we view products and brands in two ways.

Firstly, positive evaluations of a product's attribute may influence a person's judgment of the other attributes of the same product.

For example, liking a perfume bottle may also make one feel that the perfume smells better and is more appealing than other perfumes. Knowing that an apparel is produced in, for instance, Korea, may also make one think the garment is better designed and of higher quality.

Secondly, positive feelings towards or evaluations of an item may also be extended to the broader brand. For instance, one's positive evaluation of a product, for instance, the Sony VAIO laptop, may be extended to other products by the brand, such as its MP3 Player.

This is one of the main reasons why companies prefer to introduce new products under a parent brand. By using the same brand name, marketers hope consumers may transfer the positive associations they have about the parent brand to the new product.

This is especially so for companies with strong brands, as people are more willing to try the new products and services they offer. Taking advantage of the halo effect is also one of the reasons why we frequently see lesser-known brands mimicking the packaging of well-known brands.

Thus, the halo effect may lead us to make unsound judgments or judgments that are too heavily dependent on one or two factors.

So, why do people adopt such heuristics (or mental shortcuts)? For a start, many are generally unaware that they are engaging in such generalisations. They are unconscious of its effect.

Even when people are told that their judgments have been biased by the halo effect, research has shown that they are unable to discount it adequately. However, there is an upside to such heuristics.

Given the multitude of decisions one has to make each day, using heuristics is actually a good way to reduce one's cognitive load. It takes one's mind off the complicated evaluation process and simplifies the entire purchasing decision.

In essence, the halo effect is ubiquitous and to a large extent, unavoidable. The next time you make a decision, perhaps you should take a moment to figure out how much of your decision is affected by the halo effect.

This article is contributed by Associate Professor Sharon Ng. She is an associate professor at the division of marketing and international business, Nanyang Business School, Nanyang Technological University. Her research focuses primarily on two main areas: Cross-cultural differences in consumer behaviour and branding issues.

From TODAY, Business – Tuesday, 15-Sep-2009

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Principal has done the right thing


Letter from Ong San San

I REFER to "Let teachers motivate ..." (Aug 31). I have three children and empathise with Mr Roland Ang. Yet, I think the school his daughter attends has done right in engaging neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioners to motivate its students.

In this challenging society, we must improve at the speed of light if we want to see or improve on results. Motivational speakers will help students to stay positive, think through what they want to do in the future and give them confidence and courage to work towards their goals.

My child tells me her co-curricular activity teacher talks to her about her future and shares his experiences in life with her. This motivates to do better in her studies.

NLP programmes are costly and not all are fortunate enough to be able to attend them. They are not a substitute for a teacher but will enhance a student's learning process.

From TODAY, Voices – Tuesday, 01-Sep-2009

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NLP has issues, problems

Image of the human head with the brain. The ar...Image via Wikipedia


Letter from S Ganesamoorthy

I REFER to "Let teachers motivate ..." (Aug 31). Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) as a methodology has lots of hidden issues and problems.

As principals are increasingly inviting these speakers to talk to their students, there is a need to be circumspect and look at the issue of NLP from the broad perspective of its use in education.

NLP practitioners receive their so-called master's certification by attending a short course or via online master's certification.

NLP is also not accepted into the fold of psychiatry, psychology or even sociology or social work, and does not contain the academic rigour of being accepted as a field of discipline in its own right.

The originators of NLP are themselves not agreed on the objectives and targets that must bind the NLP process.

There is certainly an obligation on the part of the Ministry of Education to ensure that the methodologies adopted to instruct our students pass the acid test of evaluating NLP as a subject in its own right.

Besides, there is an urgent need for our educational/para educational, counselling, psychological and medical agencies to evaluate and validate the methodologies adopted by NLP practitioners and hold them accountable.

It is also worrying that these training providers, who are invited to train students at an enormous investment of time and money, also conduct courses and seminars on "short circuits" to becoming millionaires.

As we celebrate Teacher's Day, let us pay tribute to the many who have mastered their skills to make a difference in their students' lives and reassert their pre-eminence in the lives of all students today and in the future.

Let us empower our teachers so that they will empower our students.

As stated so succinctly by Haim Ginott, the teacher, child psychologist and psychotherapist who pioneered techniques for conversing with children that are still taught today:

"I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It's my personal approach that creates the climate. It's my daily mood that makes the weather.

"As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a student's life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humour, hurt or heal. In all situations it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a student humanised or de-humanised".

From TODAY, Voices – Tuesday, 01-Sep-2009

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Let teachers motivate ...

Primary School in "open air", in Buc...Image via Wikipedia


But principal uses motivational speakers to boost school's results

Letter from Roland Ang

RECENTLY, I received an SMS from my daughter's school asking me to sign up for a paid workshop to help parents understand their children - to be conducted by some neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) practitioners.

My daughter told me that the school had also engaged the same people to counsel and motivate them as her school principal was not happy with the overall mid-year result.

The purpose of the NLP-trained motivational speaker, they were told, was to help them achieve better results.

Private organisations use NLP-trained motivational speakers to enhance sales targets and customer service, notably in the insurance and time-share industries. Their relationships are purely commercial. However, that cannot be said between schools and motivational speakers as the latter have no stake and vested interest in any school.

Schools should leave the teaching, inspiring and motivating of children to parents and school teachers rather than relying on external trainers to enhance their overall school results just to maintain their school ranking. Is education all about results and nothing else?

Miss Ho Peng, the director-general of Education at the Ministry of Education, said in a speech recently at the Teachers' Mass Lecture as well as the formation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), which are powerful platforms for teachers to learn from one another, that it gives her great fulfilment when teachers move on to greater responsibilities and, in turn, help to develop others.

I think this is a move in the right direction for teachers.

There are many advertisements in from NLP entrepreneurs. Their punchlines are about helping those who sign up for their courses to attain financial success, or to "get rich fast".

Legally, this is not wrong, but morally these people are capitalising on the weaknesses of people with a desire to get rich fast without the need to work hard.

Such courses may lead to an erosion of the work ethic in the gullible young, especially during this economic downturn when many are unemployed or desperate to recover losses from bad investments.

If parents want to send their children to accelerated learning programmes, they do so at their own prerogative. But I hope schools will avoid engaging NLP practitioners merely to enhance their students' results. Rather, they should keep faith and trust in their teachers to inspire and motivate their students.

Our children are human beings and not commodities.

From TODAY, Voices – Monday, 31-Aug-2009

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Brainy kids - born or made?

A human brain.Image via Wikipedia


Experts say that parents and caregivers play an important role in developing a child's intelligence

Eveline Gan

AT AN age when most of her peers were figuring out how to use the potty, 18-month-old Janelle Kuah underwent private enrichment classes that involved memory-training and speed-learning.

Now aged 4, Janelle has memory skills which probably exceed that of many adults. She is able to memorise 50 different images and recite them in sequence at lightning speed. Her ability to pick up new words, as well as phrases in different languages and dialects, is just as "amazing", said Janelle's mother, Chua Ann Nee.

"The lessons aren't cheap, but I feel the training definitely helps with her brain development. She's faster than most of her peers in nursery," added Ann Nee, who forks out about $65 for an hour-long session.

But is it really possible to develop a child's intelligence?

The answer, according to experts Today spoke to, is yes.

"It is not a new idea to train and improve intelligence. Intelligence theories have always divided intelligence into two components - the part you're born with, and the part that can be learnt," said Dr Joanne Staunton, a cognitive psychologist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre's Singapore Baby and Child Clinic.

Psychologists Today spoke to said intelligence can be measured using standardised intelligence tests, administered only by trained psychologists (online IQ quizzes are not reliable). Regardless of age, the average IQ for any person is between 90 and 110, said Dr Staunton.

However, said the psychologists, you should only have your child's intelligence tested if you suspect your child has learning difficulties, or has experienced difficulties at school.

At KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), IQ tests are only conducted for children who have been found to have developmental delay and learning problems.

According to Ms Frances Yeo, principal psychologist at KKH Psychology Service, the human brain is not developed completely at birth and continues to develop from childhood to adulthood.

"Appropriate interventions, training and schooling will help the child to develop cognitive skills," said Ms Yeo.

"On the other hand, illness, head injuries or any medical conditions that affect how the brain develops can 'derail' learning development."

But before you rush headlong into enrolling your child in brain training enrichment courses, consider this.

New research has shown that strong loving emotional attachments with adults - such as with parents or caregivers - can shape infants' brain development positively, said Ms Therese Tan, a committee member of the professional development team at Association for Early Childhood Educators (Singapore).

"It was found that the enriching responses and positive cues that babies experienced with such relationships facilitated neural (brain nerves) activity," added Ms Tan.

Besides enrichment courses, Dr Staunton added that there are also plenty of day-to-day activities parents or caregivers can do to develop a child's IQ.

Ms Jocelyn Khoo, executive director of The Shichida Method (S) Pte Ltd, which focuses on brain training in young children, believes that a well-rounded childhood - comprising a wholesome diet, parent-child bonding, social skills and physical fitness - is just as important as the training.

"A parent must not get too caught up with developing a child's intellect and pay less attention to other parenting aspects, such as providing love and being patient. Doing so might create hidden stress in children, thus leading to reduced learning capability," added Ms Khoo.


Cognitive psychologist Dr Joanne Staunton suggests a list of five things parents and caregivers can do to develop their child's IQ.

1. Teach your child to approach things in a step-by-step manner.

2. Help your child to categorise items by discussing their similarities and differences.

3. Teach your child to follow instructions. For instance, tell your child to "draw a circle". Gradually, get your child to follow instructions in an incremental manner by increasing the instructions, such as "draw a square and a circle".

4. Show your child how to complete patterns. After teaching your child a sequence, such as numbers one to 10, encourage your child to find a missing number.

5. Develop your child's language skills. This can be done by reading to your child, using new words or simply asking your child questions.


From TODAY, Living – Weekend, 29/30-Aug-2009

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Don't read this while driving

Walkway near the QuadImage via Wikipedia

I've heard it said before: we are now able to multitask, but not fully concentrate. We know a mile wide, but we understand an inch deep. This is the paradox of our time.


WASHINGTON - The people who multi-task the most are the ones who are worst at it.

That is the surprising conclusion of researchers at Stanford University, who found multi-taskers are more easily distracted and less able to ignore irrelevant information than people who do less multi-tasking.

"The huge finding is, the more media people use the worse they are at using any media. We were totally shocked," said Professor Clifford Nass of Stanford's communications department.

The researchers studied 262 college undergraduates, dividing them into high and low multi-tasking groups and comparing such things as memory, ability to switch from one task to another and being able to focus on a task.

Their findings are reported in Tuesday's edition of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

When it came to such essential abilities, people who did a lot of multi-tasking didn't score as well as others, Prof Nass said.

"Is multi-tasking causing them to be lousy at multi-tasking, or is their lousiness at multi-tasking causing them to be multi-taskers?" Prof Nass wondered. "Is it born or learned?"

In a society that seems to encourage more and more multi-tasking, the findings have social implications, Prof Nass observed. Multi-tasking is already blamed for car crashes as several states restrict the use of cell phones while driving. Lawyers or advertisers can try to use irrelevant information to distract and refocus people to influence their decisions.

In the study, the ability to ignore irrelevant information was tested by showing participants a group of red and blue rectangles, blanking them out, and then showing them again and asking if any of the red ones had moved.

The test required ignoring the blue rectangles. The researchers thought people who do a lot of multi-tasking would be better at it.

"But they're not. They're worse. They're much worse," said Prof Nass.

The high media multi-taskers could not ignore the blue rectangles. "They couldn't ignore stuff that doesn't matter. They love stuff that doesn't matter," he said. AP


From TODAY, World – Wednesday, 26-Aug-2009

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Jobs, but no locals

Foreign construction workers at Little India.Image via Wikipedia

Is this due to the locals' closed-mindedness, and to the extent of viewing some jobs as 'indecent', 'dishonorable', and 'degrading'?


Businesses in Little India find it tough to hire Singaporeans

Leong Wee Keat

BESIDES overseas training and a $1,500 monthly salary, he even threw in a guarantee that the job would be for five years. Yet the owner of a restaurant in Little India is still looking for a Singaporean to hire as a cook.

Speaking at a tripartism forum yesterday, he appealed to Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong "not to kill the golden goose" when reviewing the foreign worker quota - the subject of some speculation that it may be further tightened.

For while there may be waves of jobs retrenchment, businesses in Little India are finding it hard to hire locals. Because of that, it is tough to expand, said Little India Shopkeepers and Heritage Association chairman Rajamkumar Chandra.

"When Singaporeans come, they are interviewing us, 'Can we work Monday to Fridays? We don't want Saturdays and Sundays'," he said.

Replying, Mr Gan said that while he would consider their views, it is important for employers, unions and the Government to work together to achieve a "win-win outcome". His ministry would work with unions to train the manpower for the food and beverage and hospitality sectors.

But employers should also think of a way to enhance job worth in the service sector, said Labour chief Lim Swee Say.

An example: The security and cleaning industries where job redesigns have led to higher salaries.

"If foreign workers become the only solution and at the expense of job upgrading, job redesign and skill redevelopment ...we will be on the unsustainable track," said the secretary general of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office.

Both Ministers were speaking at a dialogue session with 180 business leaders from the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

The Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (Spur) also came up for discussion. If firms are not able to send workers for retraining, perhaps the Government could transfer the subsidies to them in the form of Jobs Credits asked an employer.

To this, Mr Lim said the NTUC would object. Jobs Credits help employers cut costs, while Spur is to upgrade workers' capabilities. Mr Gan also said - ahead of official numbers - that retrenchment numbers in the second quarter would be "better than the first quarter".

From TODAY, Home – Wednesday, 29-Jul-2009

If you are interested, read the comments from readers on this news article.

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How to rip off students


Another one of those 'fake' or 'bogus' agencies… and also again involving Australia?


TV show exposes exploitation of Indian students

MELBOURNE - Australia yesterday vowed to crack down on migration scams targeting Indian students and condemned a "cowardly" attack on a female reporter who blew the lid on the shady practices.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said Australia was tightening regulations on migration agents after a television current affairs show exposed rip-offs exploiting students who have fuelled the country's booming international education sector.

The revelations are the latest to damage the US$12.7 billion ($18.3 billion) a year industry - Australia's third-largest export earner - after a series of violent attacks on Indian students living in Melbourne and Sydney.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard slammed the attack on the female Indian journalist, who was physically assaulted in a Sydney street over the weekend while working undercover for the ABC programme.

"Any attack like that which has been reported is cowardly and completely abhorrent," Ms Gillard said. "The Australian government is absolutely committed to providing quality education for all students, and we have taken steps to improve the experience for overseas students," she added.

The expose, screened on Monday, reported that some Indian families had been left broke after sending children to Australia for courses that failed to deliver any educational value.

It said hundreds of private colleges offering courses such as hairdressing, cooking and accounting had sprung up that lured students with false promises of gaining permanent residency in Australia.

The TV programme said migration agents told its undercover reporter she could pay between A$3,000 and A$5,000 ($3,590 and $5,980) for a fake English-language certificate needed to gain residency.

"Australia's education exports face much deeper problems than safety issues. There's now a rising clamour over dodgy courses, student rip-offs and an education system that's turned into a visa factory," the report said.

The Australian Council for Private Education and Training has said it plans to launch a register of education agents to help students find honest providers.

Indian students protested in Melbourne and Sydney last month, following a series of attacks and muggings which strained diplomatic ties and prompted negative headlines in their home country.

Some 95,000 Indians are studying in Australia following a publicity blitz targeting the huge country's growing middle class. AFP

From TODAY, World – Wednesday, 29-Jul-2009

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China bans violent online games

Territories currently administered by two stat...Image via Wikipedia

For one, this I agree with what China is doing…


BEIJING - China has banned websites from advertising or linking to games that glamorise violence, as part of a campaign to ensure social stability ahead of the 60th anniversary of communist rule on Oct 1.

The Culture Ministry said games that promote drug use, obscenities, gambling, or crimes such as rape, vandalism and theft are "against public morality and the nation's fine cultural traditions".

"Such online games promote the glorification of mafia life ... and are a serious threat to the moral standards of society causing vulnerable young people to be adversely affected," the ministry said.

The ban on the websites starts immediately. No details were given on how the law would be implemented.

Some companies have already started internal investigations and removed some games from their websites. Oak Pacific Interactive, which runs popular websites such as and, told AFP it had scrapped several games, including "All corners of the country" which features black market deals, vendettas and street fights. AGENCIES

From TODAY, World – Thursday, 30-Jul-2009

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Singaporeans are saving more and investing less after economic crisis

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

And this is a very commendable character…

I was really looking for some news of this type, and sadly, this is my opinion, that it happens only 'during the rainy seasons'.

Why not make it a way of life, like the ant's benevolence, saving in the summer, that it may have something in store during the winter? Even if winter doesn't come?

I do believe that you have to enjoy yourself while young and while you have the time and resources, but when everything is all spent while just at the start or your life, midlife, isn't that something to be worried about?

While Singaporeans are saving, they still splurge on luxuries… like iPhone 3G or iPhone 3GS… more than the necessary material… more than the basic…

Well, for the news story, read it here.

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Singapore to experience minimal effects of upcoming solar eclipse

{{Potd/2006-10-27 (en)}}Image via Wikipedia

Perhaps to allay the fears, if not to completely rebut the supposedly 'evil effects' of the solar eclipse, Singapore says that there is not much effect, no impact, nothing to fear, not to worry, about the upcoming solar eclipse.

See that news story here.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Solar eclipse… good or bad?

A Total eclipse in the umbra.  B Annular eclip...Image via Wikipedia

Science against superstition, what is spoken is simply based on what these people believe in.

As it is defined, superstition is 'fear of the devil or demon', and as it is even more so based on mythology, it would be even more historically rooted in the deep faith and religion of the Indian folks.

So they say that the upcoming solar eclipse, when the moon comes between the Earth and the Sun, the total darkness will create chaos, wars, etc., etc. Bad, bad omen, then say.

I wouldn't want to tell the whole story, so go and read it here.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Outright fines for commuters caught eating & drinking in MRT trains, stations

Time's mortal aspect is personified in this br...Image via Wikipedia

Is this latest principle over-the-board?

If you ask me, I think it is not. There are people who simply just ignore the signs.

Worse, when they are politely asked by concerned citizens, they have the knack to be self-righteous, and become angry.

I agree with this – it is high time.

Read that news story here.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Opportunities exist despite downturn, say Singaporean designers

Circuit CityImage by Ed Yourdon via Flickr

In this time of recession, some are badly hit, while some are benefitting from it.

Still others say that we are able to survive, and some profess that opportunities abound.

For one of such story, read it here.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Guam expected to hire Filipino medical workers by 2012

The New De La Rue Design for the Recess Printe...Image via Wikipedia

As for the answer to Filipinos hit even worse by the recession, here is one news that may bring some good promise.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The daily grind: Sex for a week boosts sperm quality

Would this finding help in producing better kids? Healthier? Cannot tell?


AFP - Wednesday, July 1

A painting in the lobby of the world's biggest sperm bank, Cryos, which has its headquarters in the Danish city of Aarhus. Men seeking to become a dad should have sex each day, or ejaculate daily, for a week before their partner ovulates in order to maximise sperm quality, according to a study by Australian fertility specialists.

PARIS (AFP) - - Men seeking to become a dad should have sex each day, or ejaculate daily, for a week before their partner ovulates in order to maximise sperm quality, according to a study presented on Tuesday.

Australian fertility specialist David Greening recruited 118 men whose sperm had a higher-than-normal level of DNA damage.

Before the test, on average 34 percent of the group's sperm was rated as damaged, meaning that it was classified as "poor" in quality. Among individuals, this ranged from 15 percent to 98 percent.

The men were asked to ejaculate daily for seven days, but were not given any drugs or told to make any changes to lifestyle.

After seven days, their sperm was examined again.

The average of damaged sperm fell to 26 percent, placing it in the category of "fair" in quality.

Fourth-fifths of the men saw an increase in sperm quality, and many of them moved into the "good" range and out of the "poor" or "fair" categories.

However, one-fifth saw a decline in sperm quality.

Greening, an obstetrician and endrocrinologist at Sydney IVF, an Australian company that carries out assisted reproduction, said the improvements were "substantial and statistically highly significant."

Daily ejaculation not only boosted sperm quality for most of the men, it also helped sperm motility -- another big factor in successful fertilisation -- even though volumes of semen declined, he said.

Greening presented his findings at a conference in Amsterdam of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), which provided details in a press release.

The research did not investigate whether the improvement in sperm quality led to better pregnancy rates. But previous work has shown that sperm that is less damaged and more mobile has a better chance of leading to a healthy baby.

"These results may mean that men player a greater role in fertility than previously suspected, and that ejaculatory frequency is important for improving sperm quality," said Greening.

Why this is so is unclear.

Greening said he suspected that the longer sperm stays in the testicular ducts, the greater its exposure to rogue oxygen molecules that damage cells.

His advice to couples would be to have sex, or to ejaculate, daily in the runup to ovulation or to sperm donation for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

"The optimal number of days of ejaculation might be more or less seven days, but a week seems manageable and favourable," he said.

"It seems safe to conclude that couples with relatively normal semen parameters should have sex daily for up to a week before ovulation date."

From Yahoo! News; see the source article here.

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