Saturday, 31 August 2019

Scam alert: Sheng Siong urges shoppers not to believe scam message about winning a Huawei P30

Yesterday, the National Crime Prevention Council sounded off an alert about a scam message that has been making rounds recently, sent by a “ShengSiong”. The real Sheng Siong supermarket chain, however, has nothing to do with the “August Draw” that the message recipient was said to have taken part in.

The message includes a link to a website that will congratulate visitors for being one of the lucky few selected to score a free Huawei P30.  But you have to key in your billing information, including your credit card details.

Keying in one’s credit card details would immediately incur a $122 monthly fee for a subscription of some kind of “unlimited online entertainment”. There is an option to cancel the subscription, but since this is a scam, one wonders if it will work.


Forum: A law that is unhealthy for family ties

I am shocked to learn about the clause in the Women's Charter which mandates payouts for education for a child over 21 as long as he is unable to support himself (Parents obliged to support children's education, Aug 29).

Short of being physically or mentally challenged, I think able-bodied men who can serve national service and defend the country should be matured enough to look for a job and earn enough to support himself rather than depend on his parents.

I think parents should not be penalised if their adult children refuse to look for a job or fail to earn their keep themselves.

If parents, for whatever reason, cannot or refuse to fund the education of their adult children, it is only logical that the children should look for a job instead of continuing their education or taking their parents to court.

Allowing such a provision in our law that encourages children to sue their parents in court can only result in unhealthy family relationships. This will discourage more people from having children.

It is reasonable for parents to provide for their children till the age of 18. Anything beyond that should be strictly voluntary, and children should be expected to look after themselves thereafter.

Seah Yam Meng


My 2 cents:
Some of the clauses of Women's Charter were written long time ago when women and children needed protection. But time has changed and I think the clauses should change with the time.

Women are now more independent and can be just as greedy and evil. People are getting smarter and cunning, including children. 

Capable people should be encouraged to be less dependable on the government, find their own solutions whenever possible.

When the law is separated into men and women, there will never be equality among the sexes. Just like when law and religions are mixed, there will be no peace among the same people. Law should not be mixed nor divided.

Exceptional people: Koen Pang becomes first Singaporean to be ranked world’s No. 1 Under 18 table tennis player

Source: Yahoo news

Table tennis player Koen Pang has become the first Singaporean to be ranked the world’s No. 1 Under 18 paddler.

This comes after the International Table Tennis Federation updated the current Under 18 world ranking list, the Singapore Table Tennis Association said in a statement on Friday (31 August).

Koen, 17, said, “I am very happy that I am able to achieve this target. It's a milestone and I'm really grateful for the support given to me by Singapore Table Tennis Association, Sports SG, Singapore Sports Institute and Singapore Sports School. I hope this will spur the younger players to believe that with hard work and perseverance, all things are possible!’’


Friday, 30 August 2019

Singapore ranked second-safest city in the world: EIU index

Cities are ranked according to their performance in 57 indicators across four pillars — digital, infrastructure, health and personal security.

The EIU index, sponsored by NEC this year, was revised to better capture "urban resilience" — defined as the ability of cities to absorb and bounce back from shocks — as the concept has had an increasing influence on thinking in urban safety over the last decade, especially as policymakers worry about the implications of climate change.

  1. Tokyo
  2. Singapore
  3. Osaka
  4. Amsterdam
  5. Sydney
  6. Toronto
  7. Washington, DC
  8. Copenhagen
  9. Seoul
  10. Melbourne

Read more @

Forum: Confusion over what reserves are and why they're needed

The same concerns regarding the massive reserves accumulated by tertiary institutions, megachurches and, by implication, other organisations that receive funds from the public can be applied to the country's ample national reserves (Varsities, religious groups raising the most donations, July 14).

There appears to be a misunderstanding that accumulated reserves equate to cash in hand and are readily available to more than amply meet the charitable and social objectives of the said entities.

In fact, reserves include assets and liabilities, of both long-term and short-term characteristics, and share capital.

Long-term assets very often include huge amounts locked up in buildings, infrastructure, equipment and other fixed assets that are not readily convertible to cash and often are available only upon liquidation of the organisations.

Clearer indicators of whether an entity is overaccumulating reserves would be the levels and the rate of growth in cash balances and other liquid investments like fixed deposits, bonds and equities. This has to be counterbalanced by not ignoring short-term liabilities.

Like any corporate body, non-profit entities need to maintain a healthy level of reserves in order to provide working capital to sustain their existence, to assure beneficiaries who may not be able to withstand a sudden cessation of aid and to meet the long-term plans for growing the entity.

Typically, entities with several years of track record and proper financial management capabilities should be able to arrive at an adequate reserves level on, say, a three-to 10-year perspective.

Given the persistent public outcry, all entities receiving public monies should pay attention to their level of reserves.

Perhaps, they should also take their cue from the 2016 Netflix series Billions, which had an episode ironically entitled "Accumulation with no end in sight is gluttony", one of the seven deadly sins.

Loh Kin Poh


My photo - sightseeing in a side car attached to scooter @ Kampong Glam

A public domain photo by me

What is Alzheimer's?

Loss of short-term memory
Behavioral changes
Mood swings
Difficulties dealing with money or making a phone call

Severe memory loss, forgetting close family members, familiar objects or places
Becoming anxious and frustrated over inability to make sense of the world, leading to aggressive behavior
Eventually lose ability to walk
May have problems eating
The majority will eventually need 24-hour care  

Source: Alzheimer's Association

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Age limit for IVF to be removed, more funding for couples seeking fertility treatments

There are various kinds of assisted reproductive treatment(ART) procedures, with the most common one being in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).

From January next year:
  • The Ministry of Health (MOH)  will lift the age limit for women to undergo ART treatments and remove the cap on the number of ART cycles for all women.
  • Women aged 40 and above will be eligible for Government co-funding for up to two of the six co-funded ART cycles, as long as the couple had attempted assisted reproduction (AR) or Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI) procedures before age 40, and are assessed medically fit by their doctor to carry a pregnancy to term.
  • Eligible couples can receive co-funding of up to S$7,700 per fresh cycle and S$2,200 per frozen cycle for three cycles each.
  • Government co-founding will also be rolled out for the less invasive IUI procedure. Those undergoing IUI procedures at public AR centres will be able to receive co-funding of up to 75%, capped at S$1,000 per treatment cycle for three cycles, as long as the woman is below 40 at the start of the cycle. The couple must also have been assessed by a doctor at the centre and one spouse has to be a Singapore citizen.

Read more @

Just a single 20-minute spin on a bicycle could boost cognition and memory in the over-60s

Scientists from the University of Iowa analysed 34 people, aged 60-to-80, who rode an exercise bike for the short amount time of 20 minutes.

After a single work out, brain scans showed a burst of activity in the participants' hippocampus, which acts as the 'memory centre'.

They also had increased connectivity between the hippocampus and the parietal and prefrontal cortexes, regions involved in both memory and cognition.

'Day-to-day' activities could be all it takes to reap the benefits, with the researchers stressing people should not feel they have to 'train for a marathon' to keep their memory sharp.


Scam warning: Singtel warns about scam calls involving fake technicians, customer service officers

Singtel on Wednesday (Aug 28) warned of a scam targetting the personal details of its customers.

There have been callers claiming to be a Singtel technician or customer care officer, offering to troubleshoot customers' Internet connection, said the telco.

These callers ask for personal details including NRIC numbers, Wi-Fi passwords and router numbers.

"This is a scam," said the company. "Singtel does not ask for Wi-Fi passwords and router numbers during troubleshooting calls."

Read more @

Bye to cold sores


Why do we hiccup?

Maybe it was because when the waiter asked, “Still or sparkling?” you chose sparkling. It could have also been that you were ravenous and ate a little too much. Or, possibly, it was your ex, who happened to be dining at the same restaurant and stood a little too long over your table making awkward small talk. All of these things, hic, might cause spasms, hic, in your diaphragm, hic.

Most hiccups are benign and last only a few minutes or hours. But sometimes hiccups are indicative of a more serious health issue, particularly when they recur or do not go away for days, weeks or years. Beyond being embarrassing, the muscle contractions can be physically exhausting. They can interrupt sleep and make it hard to eat. Approximately 4,000 people in the United States are admitted to the hospital every year for hiccups.

Doctors say there are as many causes for hiccups as there are crazy remedies, including tugging on your tongue, standing on your head and swallowing granulated sugar. Some actually work. Others are more likely just entertainment for friends and family who watch while you try to cure yourself.

Everyone gets the hiccups, and yet nobody knows why.


Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Reasons to use a handkerchief

Paper tissues do not come from recycled wood. Instead fresh trees are cut to produce them. Because of what they are used for (mostly for hygiene purposes), tissues are not recyclable but handkerchiefs are.

The best material for handkerchief is 100% cotton as polyester and cotton blends do not adsorb moisture.

Why use handkerchief:
  • It saves money
  • It produces less waste/saves resources
  • Hankies are more comfortable to use
  • Hankies create less of a mess
  • Hankies are more sustainable

Save the earth and the trees by using handkerchief instead of paper tissues.


You may want to read  Do cloth diapers really save you money?

Get wary about dengue

Ref: ST 26 Aug, 2019

Studies suggest fasting may cut chronic disease risks and eating fewer calories may boost immunity

Image for illustration only

Periodic fasting may reduce the risk of chronic disease by keeping inflammatory immune cells at bay, a new study suggests.

What's more, a second new study suggests that eating fewer calories - enough, but not more than an individual needs for nourishment - may supercharge other infection-fighting immune cells.

The teams - from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the Mount Sinai Health System in New York City - both say this could lead to doctors recommending a nutritional plan coupled with traditional treatments for patients suffering from infections or certain cancers. 

'All these studies synergize to show that a simple change in diet can have a profound effect on our immune system,' Dr Yasmine Belkaid, chief of the Metaorganism Immunity Section in NIAID's Division of Intramural Research, told


Monday, 26 August 2019

Why constant complaining is bad for health and how to stop doing it with mindfulness

Complaining might feel like a harmless way to relieve stress, but if you do it often enough it can induce a negative outlook that, in the long run, may affect your physical health.

Optimists tend to be healthier than pessimists, according to research published in 2004 in the Archives of General Psychiatry. The study surveyed 999 elderly men and women for almost a decade, during which time 397 participants died. When the study was over, the researchers found that participants who considered themselves highly optimistic had a 55 per lower risk of death from all causes and a 23 per lower risk of death from heart failure compared with participants who were strongly pessimistic.

It is hard to pinpoint the reasons behind the results, although it is understood that major depression, which is associated with a negative outlook – is a known risk factor for cardiovascular problems.

Read more @

Exceptional people: Chiam See Tong Sports Fund raises over S$170,000 for athletes

Mr Goh Chok Tong shaking the hand of Mr Chiam See Tong

The Chiam See Tong Sports Fund, which supports disadvantaged athletes, raised more than S$170,000 on Thursday (Aug 22), with about S$10,000 coming from an auction at a gala dinner.

Mr Chiam, who started the charity, suffered two strokes, the first in 2008, as well as a hip injury in 2013, was there in a wheelchair and was accompanied by his wife Lina Chiam and daughter Camilla.

The 400 guests at the dinner, including Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Mr Edwin Tong, Senior Minister of State for Law and Health, stood up to applaud and welcome him.

For the auction in aid of the fund, Mr Goh Chok Tong donated one of his golf clubs, on which he signed his name.

Other notable items that were auctioned: A Liverpool jersey autographed by football legend Kenny Dalglish and an FC Barcelona jersey signed by Lionel Messi. These two items were donated by former Nominated MP Zulkifli Baharudin.

Read more @

Exceptional company: SPH celebrates 35 years with a $426,000 donation

Dr Lee Boon Yang, chairman of SPH and SPH Foundation, presents a cheque for $426,000 to Mr Phillip Tan of the Community Chest. Source: tnp

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) kicked off its 35th birthday celebrations with a cake and cheque for $426,000 at an anniversary concert yesterday.

The money will go to the Special Education Financial Assistance scheme and 20 charities to support children with special needs, vulnerable seniors and disadvantaged families.


Vitiligo sufferer, 25, whose face and entire body was covered by light patches claims turning VEGAN has reversed her condition

Image for illustration only

Jamila Davis, 25, from Florida, was diagnosed with the skin condition vitiligo, caused by a lack of melanin a pigment of the skin - when she was eight.

The patches slowly spread across her whole body, meaning strangers would often stare at her because of her unique appearance.

Miss Davis decided to go vegan after her father died from a stroke in 2017, after the pair had plans to go plant-based together. 

A year into her meat-free diet, the college student was stunned to see her colour returning on parts of her body. Now, her original colour has fully returned on most of her face.


My photo - old coaster

A public domain photo by me

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Father, daughter commended for helping nab suspect who took upskirt photos; Man stops senior citizen from committing suicide

Mr Loo King Keong and Mr Augustine Luo (receiving on behalf of Ms Alethea Luo), AC Jarrod Pereira. (Photo: Singapore Police Force)

For their efforts in nabbing a suspect who took upskirt photos, Mr Loo and Ms Luo received the Singapore Police Force's Public Spiritedness Award on Friday (Aug 23).

Mohamed Juhairi Juma'at was also commended for stopping an elderly man from committing suicide on the fifth floor of Blk 58 Lengkok Bahru on May 23.

The elderly man already had one leg over the parapet and Mr Juhairi reacted swiftly and managed to bring the man to safety.

Read more @

Nicotine-free vaping can damage blood vessels and narrow them by up to a THIRD

Even nicotine-free e-cigarettes are not safe, a new study suggests.

Vaping heated, flavored liquid still damages the blood vessels when nicotine is absent, according to a new University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine study.

Researchers there found heat morphs the chemicals in e-liquids into toxic particles that distress and damage the blood vessels.

Their findings come amid an alarming slew of lung disease cases among patients who have one thing in common: vaping, whether it be using e-cigarettes infused with nicotine, cannabis or something else.


You may want to read Vaping linked to lung changes that cause emphysema in smokers

My photo - Ferrari sports car on the rood

A public domain photo by me

Scientists discover exercising in open, green spaces relieves stress more than breaking a sweat indoors

Exercising outdoors relieves stress more than working out indoors, according to a study.

Mountain biking and running in landscapes without any buildings were found to have the biggest positive impact on mental health.

Psychologists believe it's the calming effect of nature that makes outdoor exercise so stress relieving.

The research adds to a swathe of studies that have found exposure to green space is beneficial for our mood.


Friday, 23 August 2019

FitBits do NOT lead to weight loss

smart wearables

Do not bother investing in an Apple Watch if it is just to lose weight, according to new research.

Tracking your steps, blood pressure and cholesterol might motivate you, and give you an insight into your general wellbeing.

But researchers at the University of Florida found FitBits and other fitness wearables rarely lead to actual weight loss.

In an analysis of six studies on 1,615 people, the team found no users had any meaningful drop in cholesterol or blood pressure, and only one cohort recorded weight loss.

Read more @

What does eating in moderation really mean? A dietitian explains

You have heard it before (definitely from me!): Go ahead and enjoy your favorite foods - just do so in moderation. It is a phrase meant to help prevent feelings of deprivation when you’re trying to maintain a healthy diet, and while in theory it is sage advice, in reality it is meaningless.

To figure out what moderation means in your day-to-day eating, here’s some help:
I follow a 90/10 approach, which means I make 90% of my food choices healthy, leaving 10% wiggle room for my favorite indulgences (pizza, cookies, ice cream).

By the time you have loaded up on wholesome picks, there is not much room left for the less nutritious stuff (see the handy chart at right for guidance). If you are counting calories, try to limit treat foods to 150 to 200 total calories a day—and do not forget to enjoy yourself!


Sitting for more than nine hours a day raises risk of death...but a brisk 24 minute walk could save you

Previous research has repeatedly suggested that sedentary behaviour is bad and physical activity is good for health.

But a team from the University of Leicester and Norwegian School of Sport Sciences in Oslo wanted to determine how indolent behaviour impacts early death, and analysed eight large studies.

During the 5.8 year follow-up 5.9% of the 36,000 people in the studies had died.

Deaths fell steeply as the total amount of physical activity increased to a plateau of about 300 minutes (five hours) per day of light-intensity physical activity - such as walking - or about 24 minutes per day moderate intensity physical activity, like jogging, tennis or heavy gardening.

However the risk of dying more than doubled for people who spent more than nine and half hours sitting.


You may wnat to read What exactly does a sedentary lifestyle on the couch do to your body?

My photo - amphibious vehicle going into water

A public domain photo  by me

Actually, women are not better at multitasking

Multitasking has traditionally been perceived as a woman’s domain.

A woman, particularly one with children, will routinely be juggling a job and running a household – in itself a frantic mix of kids’ lunch boxes, housework, and organising appointments and social arrangements.

But a new study shows women are actually no better at multitasking than men.

The study tested whether women were better at switching between tasks and juggling multiple tasks at the same time. The results showed women’s brains are no more efficient at either of these activities than men’s.

Read more @

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

Pregnant women who drink fluoride-treated water may have children with lower IQs - but only if they give birth to boys

Pregnant women who drink fluoride-treated water may give birth to children with lower IQs, a new study suggests. Surprisingly, boys seemed to have much lower scores when their mother's had high fluoride levels than girls did.

Researchers from York University in Toronto, Canada, found that the more fluoride that was present in a mother's urine, the lower her child's IQ score was.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water fluoridation can reduce the amount of decay in children's teeth by up to 60%.

However, experts say fluoride can be dangerous in high concentrations. It can cause dental fluorosis, which is when faint white streaks appear on the teeth when younger children consume too much fluoride. Excess levels of the chemical can also cause skeletal fluorosis.


Scientists warn too much of ‘superfood’ porridge topping flaxseed ‘could cause cyanide poisoning’

It is the fashionable superfood recommended by wellness gurus as a perfect way to start the day when it’s sprinkled on porridge.

But scientists are warning that eating too much flaxseed could cause cyanide poisoning.

Also known as linseed, it is rich in fibre, omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients, and in the current trend is added to breakfast cereal or blended into smoothies.

But the seeds also contain a naturally occurring compound called amygdalin, a type of ‘cyanogenic glycoside’ that can produce cyanide gas as it degrades.


My photo - park & garden

A public domain photo by me

Sleeping late is bad for your health, Get your sleep facts right


Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Obituary: Retired Channel 8 actor Bai Yan dies aged 100

Veteran local actor Bai Yan passed away on Monday (19 August) at the age of 100.

The retired Channel 8 actor died from pneumonia at 3am in hospital, his granddaughter Jenny told Chinese newspaper Lianhe Zaobao. He had been hospitalised for pneumonia 10 days ago.


Monday, 19 August 2019

Health Ministry, Singapore Food Agency investigating recent increase in typhoid cases

Authorities are investigating the cause of an outbreak of typhoid fever in recent weeks.

As of Aug 16, the Ministry of Health (MOH) was notified of 18 local cases of typhoid fever, developing symptoms between Jul 13 and Aug 4, MOH and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said.

Both said in a joint reply on Sunday (Aug 18) that all 18 cases were hospitalised, as diagnosis of typhoid is typically done in hospitals. They added that those affected are currently in stable condition with 14 people discharged.

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella typhi, and is transmitted through the ingestion of food or water contaminated by faeces and urine of patients or carriers. A person with typhoid fever usually has prolonged fever which may be accompanied by other symptoms common to many diseases, such as headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation.

Read more @

Warning: Lavender oil found in soaps, shampoo, and laundry detergent 'causes boys and girls as young as THREE to develop breasts'

Image for illustration only
Lavender oil found in soaps, shampoo, diffusers and laundry detergent may cause young boys and girls to develop breasts before puberty, according to a study.

Researchers studied four children - one as young as three - who had abnormal breast growth and found they often used lavender products.

One child had visited the doctor after a year of sitting near her teacher's desk where lavender oil was released by a diffuser all day.

All of their symptoms went away when they stopped being exposed to the oil, which is widely known for having a calming effect.


My photo - underground tunnel

A public domain photo by me

Scientists discover massive new organ under our SKIN that causes us to feel pain

Scientists have discovered an organ in the skin that may cause people to experience pain.

Up until now, experts believed nerve fibres in the skin were responsible for picking up on uncomfortable stimuli, like pricks and blows.

But a team at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have discovered a mesh-like organ within the skin that consists of glial cells. It has been dubbed the nociceptive glio-neural complex.

When this network of cells were blocked in mice, it reduced their sensation of pain, the researchers claim. They hope their study will help experts 'understand chronic pain', which could lead to new treatments for the millions of sufferers.


Sunday, 18 August 2019

A Forum contributor thinks that corporal punishment sends the wrong message to children. What do you think?

Only love and communication work. Your child is half of you and half of the one you love and chose to live with. - Mark Lim Thiam Seng

Every child is different, hence the need for different parenting styles. Physical punishment and physical abuse are two different things altogether.
Every sane parent wants nothing more than the best for his/her children. - Sharon Long

My generation mostly grew up with corporal punishment, yet I don't see our relationship with our parents being worse than the new generation's.
In fact, nowadays, many young people treat their parents so badly. - Dave Tan

Corporal punishment as a last resort, yes. Not for every action. Parents must establish actions and consequences from the very beginning. Love your child, don't pamper him. If a child is misbehaving at a tender age, it falls on the parents. - Tavania Gorlush

Physical punishment does not cure the symptoms. You need communication and love to solve the root cause of their misbehaviour.
Using the cane to build strength in a child is an archaic and outdated form of parenting.
George Han Corporal punishment is still necessary but only when administered in a fair and calm manner.
It becomes wrong the moment it turns into an exercise to vent anger and frustration. - Wei Min Liu

Physical punishment is meant to tell your kids that there will be consequences for whatever they do. - Okazaki Sharifi San

I'd rather cane my children when they are still teachable than have the discipline master do it. - Anna Lim

(Corporal punishment) teaches them that actions have consequences, and that lesson is delivered quickly. - Nigel Pope


Being outdoors 2 hours a day keeps myopia away, but some Singapore parents say ‘no way’

To save your children’s eyesight, let them have at least two hours of outdoor time every day.

That is the main message that eye experts from Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC) want to drive home as a new Myopia Centre in Bedok opened on Friday (Aug 16) and SNEC launched a new children's book, titled Amanda the Panda: Outdoor Play Keeps Myopia Away.

A common, but dangerous, misconception is that myopia is a mere inconvenience, given that blurred vision can be corrected with optical aids such as spectacles, contact lens or even surgery such as Lasik later in life, eye doctors said.

“Optical correction or surgery doesn’t cure myopia or reduce the risk of developing complications,” Associate Professor Marcus Ang said.

Read more @

Exercise during pregnancy may have lasting benefits for babies: Study

Newborns whose mothers exercise during pregnancy may become physically coordinated a little earlier than other babies, according to a captivating new study of gestation, jogging and the varying ability of tiny infants to make a fist. The study’s findings add to growing evidence that physical activity during pregnancy can strengthen not just the mother but also her unborn children and might influence how well and willingly those children later move on their own.

The current physical activity guidelines in the United States and Europe call for children to run and play for at least an hour every day. But, according to most estimates, barely a third of European and US youngsters are that active. Many factors contribute to this physical languor, including crowded family schedules, lack of physical education programs in schools, childhood obesity and overly ample screen time.

At her earlier research, Dr May and her colleagues speculated that the babies’ hearts most likely had sped up and synchronised with their mothers’ during exercise, allowing the infants to enjoy the same heart benefits.

But whether exercise during pregnancy would likewise influence a child’s motor development and coordination remained unknown, Dr May realised, and could matter. Other past research has shown that relatively poor coordination in early childhood is linked to higher risks for inactivity and obesity in adolescence and adulthood.

Read more @

Video: Liquid aspirin is shrinking brain tumors in mice


New high tech libraries are tourist attractions

A new library in China. Source: todayonline

To attract visitors from home and abroad, many libraries have advanced, even quirky amenities. They have rooftop gardens, public parks, verandas, play spaces, teen centres, movie theatres, gaming rooms, art galleries, restaurants and more. The new library in Aarhus, Denmark, has a massive gong that rings whenever a mother in a nearby hospital gives birth.

Libraries are offering free work space for growing numbers of entrepreneurs. These are not just alternatives to coffee shops, spaces for people to pull out their laptops and work. The libraries have fancy meeting rooms for them to meet with potential clients, business librarians who can help them solve their financial challenges, and classes to teach them vital skills. At no cost, it is a much cheaper option than spending hundreds of dollars for a desk at WeWork.

Libraries are supplying the public with other features they may not have at home. Twenty years ago that was books. Now it is expensive new technology like 3D printers, laser cutters and broadcasting studios for podcasts and movies. Visitors are going to libraries to try before they buy. Other people just want to play with something that may not ever be able to afford.

Read more @

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Singaporeans advised to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong: MFA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued a travel advisory advising Singaporeans to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong as "increasingly unpredictable" protests continue to take place across the city.

“There have been large-scale protests taking place across Hong Kong since June 2019 which have become increasingly unpredictable. These protests can take place with little or no notice and could turn violent,” the MFA said on Friday (Aug 16).

Recent protests have even affected operations at Hong Kong airport, with many flights cancelled and travellers stranded on Aug 12 and Aug 13, the ministry noted.

"Singaporeans are thus advised to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong, given current developments.

Read more @

Charities watchdog suspends Crisis Centre Singapore from conducting fund-raising appeals

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) on Thursday (Aug 15) suspended all charitable fund-raising appeals conducted by Crisis Centre (Singapore) for a period of six months.

The suspension order, issued under the Charities Act, will take effect on Thursday, the COC said in a press statement.

"Investigations to date have raised serious concerns about the charity’s governance, record-keeping practices and ability to be accountable to its donors."

The COC said that suspension was imposed to "safeguard the public interest" pending further investigations.

Read more @

Forum: Integration cannot be forced

Singaporeans must anticipate the social problems that may arise before they fester on the ground and lead us astray (Integration of new Singaporeans is key, by Dr Thomas Lee Hock Seng, ST Online, Aug 13).

When many new immigrants arrive within a short period of time, there will be an impact on the existing way of life.

Our sensitive social composition makes us particularly susceptible to external influences that may fracture our hard-won harmony.

We have been brought up to be friendly and considerate to others. But it cannot be that such ingrained attitudes make us beholden to those who have no intention of being one of us.

We need foreigners to keep our economy abuzz and we welcome those who can make worthy contributions.

But they should not believe that they are doing us a favour. Both the host country and immigrants have much to gain.

We cannot force integration. It takes all sides to come out of their comfort zones to make it work. Short of pretending that all is well, we must anticipate social problems that may arise lest we begin a painful process of disintegration, not integration.

We must ask some tough questions. Are we worthy of patronage if not for the pay cheques and study grants we dish out to foreigners? When the need arises, who will stay to defend this land? And is it worth fighting for?

Lee Teck Chuan


Skeletal 70-year-old elephant mistreated in Sri Lanka, alleges animal foundation

A photo shared by the Save Elephant Foundation showed an elephant with its ribs and other bones clearly visible, and a chain wrapped around its leg.

According to the foundation, Tikiri was made to walk "many kilometres" for ten consecutive nights amidst noise, fireworks and smoke as part of the annual Buddhist festival’s celebrations in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

The Save Elephant Foundation has called for people to write to the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe, asking him to release Tikiri and bring about the "end of this cruelty".


Scientists find microplastic in the Arctic

Tiny pieces of plastic have been found in ice cores drilled in the Arctic by a US-led team of scientists, underscoring the threat pollution poses to marine life in even the remotest waters on the planet.

The researchers used a helicopter to land on ice floes and retrieve the samples during an 18-day icebreaker expedition through the Northwest Passage, the hazardous route linking the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

"We had spent weeks looking out at what looks so much like pristine white sea ice floating out on the ocean," said Mr Jacob Strock, a graduate student researcher at the University of Rhode Island, who conducted an initial onboard analysis of the cores.

"When we look at it up close and we see that it's all very, very visibly contaminated when you look at it with the right tools - it felt a little bit like a punch in the gut," he told Reuters by telephone on Wednesday.


Thursday, 15 August 2019

Forum: Urgent need to tackle burnout

Image for illustration only

Mr Abel Ang wrote a helpful and honest article on burnout (To the brink of burnout and back, Aug 11).

The recommendations to prevent burnout are not easily implemented in an increasingly networked world where the need to be on call 24/7 is required.

But first, there should be an acknowledgement of the problem - not only from workers but also from management - and then the courage to implement changes to prevent such a "crisis" from being the norm.

One area to take note of is to change the culture in our public and private institutions.

As we celebrate our 54th year of independence, we can be proud that our nation has achieved No. 1 in many areas.

However, we must not focus only on the achievements and ignore the costs.

The fact that our nation ranked rather high among nations which have poor work-life balance, and the fact that the number of suicides is increasing, should point to the need for intervention in the prevention of burnout and other mental problems among our people (S'pore ranks 32 out of 40 in index on work-life balance, Aug 8; Record 19 teenage boys committed suicide last year, July 30).

The need to achieve and meet a deadline or key performance indicators at all costs and to present a good image to those in authority, minus the care, concern and compassion for workers and subordinates, is not a culture worth preserving.

Micromanagement at every level, and correction and re-correction of work done for fear of making mistakes, constitute inefficiency, if not entirely a waste of time.

And thinking highly of only those who are "bootlickers" and ignoring feedback from those who truly mean well does not augur well for an organisation in the long run.

I am appalled to hear my patients who suffer a breakdown telling me that they cannot fulfil and complete a work task given the time constraints.

I have heard some tell me that they are still trying to clear all the e-mails in the previous months which were designated as "urgent" or "immediate".

We need to acknowledge that there is a problem.

As a doctor who sees many workers at all levels of the organisational hierarchy, I have no doubt that the problem of burnout is real. It affects all strata of society.

Do we have the courage and compassion to change the situation for the better?

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

Scientists unlock secrets of gender within sperm for first time in major breakthrough

One day, one may choose the sex of the new born baby simply by making sure the correct sperm reaches the egg first....

Sperm can be segregated easily into male and female, scientists have shown for the first time, in a breakthrough which experts said could have ‘disruptive social consequences’ if applied to humans.

Japanese researchers discovered that sperm bearing the ‘X’ chromosome - which generates a female when it joins with the ‘X’ chromosome of an egg - carry molecules which when activated slow down its movement.

When a chemical to trigger those receptors is added to sperm, the male ‘Y’ chromosomes power ahead, separating themselves from the tardy ‘X’s.

Dr Masayuki Shimada said: “We have already adapted this method to cattle production by in vitro fertilization and to pig production by artificial insemination. The successful efficient ratio by this method in cattle in IVF is more than 90% in both male and female.  Hiroshima University has applied for a patent.


Exceptional people: SP team sets new Guinness World Record

(From left) Mr Phua Shin Zert, Mr Leong Ying Wei and Mr Teo Shao Zun with their Guinness World Record certificate. Source: tnp

Mr Teo Shao Zun, 25, with fellow graduate Mr Phua Shin Zert, 20, and mechanical and aeronautical engineering lecturer Mr Leong Ying Wei, 36, Mr Teo is part of a team from the Mechanical Engineering school at SP who recently set a Guinness World Record for the fastest speed achieved by a ping pong ball.

Attempting the feat on April 10 this year, they fired a ping pong ball at 833.33m/s or 2.43 times the speed of sound. It was verified as a new record on July 11, beating the speed of 806m/s previously set by a US father-son team.

The record stemmed from the students' final-year project in collaboration with a local defence industry partner. The goal was to launch supersonic projectiles for high-acceleration mechanical shock testing without the use of combustion or pyrotechnics.


Technology: Facebook paid contractors to transcribe users' audio

Facebook Inc has been paying outside contractors using humans to transcribe audio clips from users of its services, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday (Aug 13), citing people familiar with the matter.

Facebook acknowledged the transcriptions, telling the news agency in a statement that they were made with users' permission, but that the practice has nonetheless been stopped.

"Much like Apple and Google, we paused human review of audio more than a week ago," the company said.

Facebook is not the only company that used humans to transcribe private conversations from users. Other companies that practised such activity included Apple, Google, Amazon (all mostly from their smart speakers and smart devices) and Microsoft (Skype), although it is believed that such activity has stopped.


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Exceptional people: Over 37,000 hampers raised for low-income families and migrant workers

When Mr Brendan Ong became one of Project R.I.C.E+'s project directors this year, the committee had wanted to exceed last year's goal of 25,616 hampers. They did, with a collection of 37,185.

An initiative by the Red Cross Youth Chapter, Project R.I.C.E+ started in 2005 as a rice collection campaign that gathers and redistributes rice to beneficiaries.

The hampers now consist of food items and basic necessities.

While some of these hampers went to low-income families, skipped generation families and single parent households on July 20, a portion will also be distributed to migrant workers on Aug 24.


Woman develops serious side effects after taking unlabelled pills for headaches

Unlabelled pills (top), Xtreme Candy (bottom), Skinny Lolita (right). Source cna

A woman in her 50s developed Cushing's syndrome after she consumed unlabelled capsules she bought from a peddler at Redhill market, the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Tuesday (Aug 13).

Cushing’s syndrome, commonly induced by steroids, is a serious medical condition which may cause high blood pressure, decreased immunity, weight gain and round or “moon” face.

Tests found the unlabelled product to contain steroids (dexamethasone, prednisolone) and other potent medicinal ingredients, such as diclofenac, a painkiller that may potentially cause serious gastric bleeding, as well as heart attacks and stroke when used for a prolonged period.

HSA also warned about two other products - Skinny Lolita and Xtreme Candy.

Skinny Lolita was marketed as a traditional “all-natural” slimming remedy that contained only plant and herbal extracts. However, HSA tested it to contain sibutramine, a medicine that has been banned in Singapore since 2010 due to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes.

"Xtreme Candy was tested to contain an analogue (chemically-related compound) of tadalafil, a potent prescription-only medicinal ingredient used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction," HSA said.

Inappropriate use of tadalafil and its analogues can cause "serious adverse effects", such as stroke, heart attack, low blood pressure and priapism - painful and prolonged erections.

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A public domain photo by me

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

‘Not all PMD riders are bad’: GrabFood delivery man commended for rescuing trapped driver

Mr Muhammad Riau Alfian was seen in a video pulling an elderly man out of a lorry that had turned on its side before paramedics arrived.

A GrabFood delivery man was hailed as a hero after he rescued a trapped driver from a lorry that overturned at a junction in Boon Lay on Saturday (Aug 10) morning.

In videos captured by witness Mohamad Nurfadly, the GrabFood rider — who was identified as Mr Muhammad Riau Alfian, 28 — was seen pulling an elderly man out of a lorry that had turned on its side before paramedics arrived.

The lorry driver was trying to avoid a rubbish truck along the junction at Jalan Boon Lay and Boon Lay Way at about 10am when it made a sharp right turn, causing it to tip over.

Mr Nurfadly, a 37-year-old first-aid instructor, told TODAY that the moment the accident took place, Mr Alfian threw aside his personal mobility device (PMD), mobile phone and delivery bag and rushed to help.

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Singapore to ban domestic trade in ivory

Singapore will ban domestic trade in elephant ivory from September 2021, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Monday (Aug 12).

The ban will mean that the sale of elephant ivory and ivory products will be prohibited in Singapore, NParks said. The display of the products for sale will also not be allowed.

The ban will take effect on Sep 1, 2021.

"This nationwide ban highlights Singapore's resolve in the fight against illegal trade in species listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)," NParks said in a press release.

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Exceptional people: Intellectual disability no impediment as ‘accomplished’ blood donor nears 70th donation

Conrad Puah Neo reacts during his 69th blood donation. Source: cna

Conrad Puah Neo is no average donor - he has been giving blood for two decades and counting. To be precise - 69 times since 1997. His eventual goal is to reach his 100th blood donation in 2023.

43-year-old Conrad has moderate intellectual disability which has affected his speech, ability to read and certain aspects of behaviour such as social skills. But that does not stop him from helping others.

"He’s very proud of donating blood, that gives him self-esteem and that spurs him on. He feels accomplished" said his father Clement Puah Neo.

"If you understand people with disabilities, there are lots of things they cannot do," said Mr Puah Neo. "The danger is that self-esteem can be quite low. Every time people have to do things for them and they are always told: 'You cannot this, you cannot do that.'

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My photo - plant

A public domain photo by me