What I’ve learnt about smart people

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Gasp! Harvard kid discovered the secret of smart people!

…I have noticed one overarching theme among smart people: they ask questions. When someone explains something new to me, I’ll usually just nod my head like I know what they’re talking about. If I don’t understand something, I’ll just Google it later. After all, I don’t want this person to think I’m a moron. Smart people are different. If they don’t understand something, or even if they think they understand something, they’ll ask questions.

But I’m pretty sure that nodding along thing happens especially in customarily patriarchal, feudalistic Asia. Source? My own non-extensive personal experience, where I notice that Caucasians are more likely to ask tough questions than Asians.

Good reminder.


Source: Tommy’s Tenacious Tumblr


The Sad Stage of the Malay Idol

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Unfortunately, if you happen to switch on to the free-to-air channels, you just cannot escape the constant annoyance that is the Singapore Idol.

Somehow it even manage to have slot inside the nightly news, much to me and the madame’s great distress. Inescapably, my realm of knowledge now involuntarily covers the fact of one of the two finalists for this singing contest, one of them is a Malay.

This is the third season for the show; bear in mind that both the first and second seasons’ winners are also of Malay ethnicity (or at least have Malay names).

Now, lurking in local internet forums, I have the impression most of the local internet community seemingly expect a Malay winner for the third season.

An insecure clan

Personally, I think it is a surprise. I previously thought the makciks, Malay teachers, students, and almost everyone else have spent a considerable amount to secure the triumph of the previous winners. Apparently I am mistaken. They are willing to spend a lot more to have the third one too.

To be frank, I am really worried about the state of the Malays. Singapore Idol is just one in a long list of entertainment-based channels which our youngsters are so desperately trying to conquer.

Sometime May this year, Suria, the local Malay TV channel, hosted a tryouts for the Malay talent show Anugerah. I was told the eager participants queued up as early as 4:30am to get in line. Switched on the TV on New Year’s event or some F1 party or National Day concert, and I can see that the majority of the crowd are Malays – at least those in front of the camera. (But hey, just how many camera views can you dominate?)

Even more so, try the Hari Raya season. Most do their visits in  throngs, kids in tow, late at night. It is good to visit relatives and friends, but I draw the line when the kid has school the next day, even more so if exams are looming around the corner.

The ones with common sense will plan their excursion and excuse themselves early for the sake of the child’s education. Unfortunately, it is also common to hear the justification “it’s only one day of school”. Seemingly, there is just no emphasis on the importance of education. So what if Hari Raya is just once a year? Family excursions can always be scheduled to another time.

While I agree that Singapore Idol is culturally divisive (we need to ban clan-like behaviors), the sad root of the matter is that culturally, Malays (1) do not place lack emphasis on education, and thus, (2) will almost always gain ethnic support if it involves entertainment.

Please, think of the children!

Perhaps the widely-circulated Straits’ Times op-ed got it right; Malays see themselves as being the least favourite child, and are doing anything they can to gain some sort of recognition.

But Singapore Idol is not the type of recognition we’re looking for. Rarely do we see the same fervour and support being there where education is involved.

For the greater good, please show the young ones that a singer is not what we Malays need right now. We need more doctors, engineers, lawyers, economists, and scientists. We need to stop being a perpetual slave to the entertainment industry and at least have a collective consciousness that realizes the need to churn out knowledgeable people. To show our kids that not only can they achieve anything if they work hard, but also, telling them to make the right decisions.

And to start doing that, please don’t vote for another Malay Idol. We don’t need us another entertainer.

For the greater good.


End of the University…

…As we know it.

So goes the title of this NY Times op-ed.


Most graduate programs in American universities produce a product for which there is no market (candidates for teaching positions that do not exist) and develop skills for which there is diminishing demand (research in subfields within subfields and publication in journals read by no one other than a few like-minded colleagues), all at a rapidly rising cost (sometimes well over $100,000 in student loans).

Of course, the article focuses its argument more to the system within the university itself, such as the manipulation of graduate students (“simply cheaper” than full-time professors), the sheer number of faculties and division (“research and publication become more and more about less and less”), and lack of training (“most graduate students will never hold the kind of job for which they are being trained”).

The last bit, especially, sounds like what I mentioned about here, that the relevance of certain faculties/specialization are questionable when the students move on to the “working life”.


Related post:

Manipulation by the Education System