ad astra per alia porci


Ingmar Bergman
July 31, 2007, 1:42 am
Filed under: diary

31/07/07

I was doing my daily reading of various news websites when I stumbled upon a piece by Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian about Ingmar Bergman, a Swedish filmmaker who has passed away the day before. I was immediately attracted to the themes and preoccupations of Bergman as expressed in his life’s work, mainly because they seem to be a reflection of my own concerns: the improbability of God’s existence, the essential pointlessness of life, the struggle for faith, the question of morality and loneliness with an emphasis on the masculine perspective.

I must get my hands on some of his films; it should be an interesting experience.



Business Times – 30/07/07
July 30, 2007, 1:58 am
Filed under: current affairs

Business Times – 30/07/07

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anthromorphological tendencies – the human ego and imagination
July 29, 2007, 5:18 am
Filed under: diary, the arts

“Ego is the immediate dictate of human consciousness” – Max Planck Continue reading



The Economist – 21/07/07
July 25, 2007, 3:23 am
Filed under: current affairs

The Economist – 21/07/07 Continue reading



The Economist – 14/07/07
July 24, 2007, 1:26 pm
Filed under: current affairs

The Economist – 14/07/07

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Temasek buys stake in Barclays Bank – 24/07/07
July 24, 2007, 12:41 am
Filed under: current affairs

  • Temasek bought a 2.1% stake in Barclays Bank.
  • The China Development Bank bought a 3.1% stake in Barclays.
  •  Temasek’s move might represent a shift in strategy from one focused on Asian investments to one complemented with First World exposure.
  • China’s investment in Barclays Bank represents its increasing clout in the corporate world and a desire to invest its forex in more profitable avenues. Continue reading


Getting To Yes
July 22, 2007, 2:34 am
Filed under: Lifeskills

Personal notes from Getting To Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury Continue reading



Americans are getting richer
July 22, 2007, 1:19 am
Filed under: current affairs

From the Guardian, 22 July 2007

Welcome to Richistan, USA

The American Dream of riches for all is turning into a nightmare of inequality. But a backlash is brewing, reports Paul Harris in New York

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Today – 21 July 2007
July 21, 2007, 12:18 pm
Filed under: current affairs

Today newspaper – 21 July 2007

  • Japan consumes 40-45% of the world’s production of luxury goods.
  • Shortage of international schools in Hongkong. Expatriates with family are less likely to move there; some companies like Fedex even buy debentures from schools to secure places in the schools for their workers.
  • Most Asian nations ban electronic gambling. Cagayan Freeport, an investment zone in the Philippines, is the first to legalise online casinos.


Chinese companies on the SGX worth looking at
July 20, 2007, 9:09 am
Filed under: investments/finance/economics

I have filtered the list of Chinese companies on the SGX using good old Shareinvestor and came up with a list of companies with net profit margins above 10% and return on equity of at least 15% thereabouts. It’s a good way of categorising and keeping track of possible companies to invest in. A note of caution: this is neither a recommendation to buy nor to sell. Valuations and prices have not been taken into account. Here’s the list, grouped according to industry with a brief description of each business:

Water/ Waste

  • Asia Environment – water and wastewater treatment solutions
  • Asia Water – water purification and wastewater treatment systems projects
  • Zhonghui – turnkey services for entire domestic solid waste management systems

Pharmaceutical

  • Asia Pharm – produce and sells a wide range of drugs, distribution of products, processing and sale of active ingredients and sale of patents
  • C&O Pharmaceutical – marketing and selling 3rd party pharma products, manufacturing and sale of own drugs and development and selling of know-how
  • Sihuan – cardiocerebral vascular drugs and noncardiocerebral vascular drugs

Beauty/ Fashion

  • Beauty China – colour cosmetics and skincare products
  • Hongguo – ladies’ shoes
  • Suneast – beauty, skincare and hygiene products
  • China Hongxing – sports goods

Chemicals

  • Jiutian – production of methanol, dimethylformamide and methylamine and processing and sale of consumable carbon dioxide and oxygen
  • SP Chemicals – production of chlor-alkali products

Equipment

  • Bright World – stamping machines
  • China Farm – combine harvesters, plough machines and components and diesel engines
  • China Bearing – ball bearings
  • Hengxin – coaxial cables used in telecommunications
  • MIDAS – aluminium alloy extrusion products and PE pipes
  • Midsouth – fibreglass reniforced plastic products, used in vehicle parts, industial fittings, doors and windows.

Textiles

  • C&G Industrials – manufacture PET chips and yarn products
  • China Powerprint Group – printing books and specialised print products
  • China Print & Dye – providing dyeing and printing services and selling dye products
  • China Sky – chemical fibres manufacturer
  • Fibrechem – manufacture and sale of polyester fibre and polyester differential fibre products
  • Foreland – manufacture and sale of fabrics and provision of fabric processing services
  • Hongwei – manufacture and sale of polyester differential fibres

Tapes

  • CHT – makes and sales adhesive products, PVC film and pressure sensitive adhesives, as well as machinery to make adhesive products

Food

  • Celestial Nutrifoods – soybean protein-based food products
  • China Fish – catches and sells fish; also has fishmeal processing operations
  • China Lifestyle – making jelly, marshmellows and candy
  • China Milk – produces bull semen, cow embroyoes and raw milk
  • China Kangda – processed, ready-to-eat food products
  • China Sun – processing corn and selling starch-based products
  • China Essence – processing potato and selling potato-starch-based products
  • Synear – quick-freeze foods

Property

  • Sunshine – Henan-based cluster estate developer of mid level residential and commercial properties, also engages in property investments by leasing out commercial properties
  • Yanlord – high-end real estate and commercial properties developer and provider of property management services

 Shipping

  • COSCO – shipping company with diverse activities
  • Courage Marine – dry bulk shipping company


Behold the gradual debasement of the English language
July 20, 2007, 3:12 am
Filed under: the arts

and the sporadic spurts of my blood pressure level whenever I see words like “gr8!” (an alphanumerical Frankenstein of the simple word “great”), “gers” (a carelessly construed and confusing replacement for the word “girl” since the Gers also refers to the Scottish Rangers Football Club) and “cuz” (becoz itz kool to use cuz) used in all forms of medium, primarily electronic and particularly Singaporean.

This article from the Guardian blog got me going on this tirade against abuse of the beloved English language (Engrish to most Singaporean ah bengs). The title of the blog post itself sparks controversy and provokes me to read the entry. The most wanton infringement of the laws of good English is arguably found on the Internet in the form of blogs, where the conversational pidgin encroaches into the formal territory of the written word. According to the article, the most used words in the blogosphere are as follows:

blogger
blog
stupid
me
myself
my
oh
yeah
ok
post
stuff
lovely
update
nice
shit

We must discount the presence of common words like “my” and “myself” and technical words that will inevitably be used frequently like “blog” and “post”. What irks me is the use of meaningless platitudes like “nice”, “lovely”, “stupid” and the immortal and endlessly versatile (and hence meaningless) “shit”, and the ubiquity of slangs and verbal pidgin like “yeah”, “ok” and “oh”. A common, carelessly written and utterly meaningless blog post would read like this:

Today I had a bad hair day. Yeah, it was not nice. Shit. Ok.

An alternative:

I saw a dress today. It is very nice. Yeah.

I always wonder if anything is actually communicated when one writes like this. In each case, only the first sentence is required if one is to relay purely factual information. In order to substantiate or flesh out reasons and opinion, we need to get beyond meaningless, general words like “nice” and move into more descriptive territory. And don’t get me started on why words that “yeah” and “shit” are even used. I do believe that with the advent of the internet and the popularity of electronic communication mediums like the blog, electronic messaging and email, English is getting banal, trite and utterly underused, resulting in a lack of communication. It seems that the faster and more advanced we get electronically, the less we actually communicate.

I am no standard bearer of model English usage myself; I am guilty of using these words often. What separates me from many others is that I use these words purely for conversational purposes and almost never in written form. In conversation, I use slangs and made-up words that are popularised because of necessity. The spoken word is as much about social function and the way it is said as it is about the absolute content of the word itself; slangs and other contortions have a social purpose in communicating effectively with peers.

However, when it comes to the formal written word, the correct use of English is imperative if one is to communicate effectively and create a positive impression in the minds of readers. This is even more so when communicating with strangers all over the world. Singaporeans might use the noun “arrow” as a verb to suggest being ordered to do undesired extra work but I am pretty sure the word loses its local meaning outside of Singapore.

With the written medium, it is very hard to clarify meaning, and hence proper English forms the basis of clear communication. Imagine a book written by an author using words with highly localised meanings that is read by an international audience. How does one clarify meaning with the author?

On top of this, sloppy English gives people the impression of bad taste, poor education and a lack of intelligence. Not everyone knows you well enough to look past this aspect of behaviour. Whenever I view a post on an online forum using bastardisations like “ger”, “farnee” and “luv”, I assume that the person who wrote the post is pre-pubescent.

What’s happening now is electronic medium is increasingly being used and seen as conversation, even though it is in written form. Words are carelessly used and miscommunication, or worse, non-communciation ensues. It is quite a sad sight, with words being disfigured and mutilated for the sake of abbreviation and convenience. I always feel guilty whenever I give in the temptation to abbreviate my words while text-messaging (e.g. “thks” instead of “thanks”, “dunno” instead of “don’t know”). Thankfully my aberrant behaviour has not supplanted my normal behaviour.

When that day comes, I will probably kill myself.



Forbes – 23/07/07
July 19, 2007, 1:58 pm
Filed under: current affairs

Forbes – 23/07/07 Continue reading



China to Phase Out Corn-based Ethanol Production
July 19, 2007, 6:35 am
Filed under: current affairs

 Bad news for China Biochem, which intends to move into corn ethanol production.

China to Phase Out Corn-based Ethanol Production   Continue reading



give me time
July 18, 2007, 2:15 pm
Filed under: Lifeskills

Personal notes on time-saving and time management techniques from give me time by the Mind Gym Continue reading



A Zebra in Lion Country
July 18, 2007, 1:49 pm
Filed under: investments/finance/economics

Personal notes from A Zebra in Lion Country by Ralph Wanger

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