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A Speculation on the Sex Lives of Speculators

Posted by intellisg on July 21, 2007

This titillating article explains the concept of dominance and hierarchy in Singapore society. It should not be misinterpreted as an article which advises readers to speculate in stocks to improve their sex lives.

A colleague of mine, a 33-year-old storage engineer which I will call G, was a happy man last week. After purchasing 100,000 shares of a construction company using contra, he watched the stock rise 2 cents and then promptly unloaded his position to make about $2000 in less than 3 hours.

These are indeed happy days supported by a strong bull market.

G wanted to know if this market will rise further and promises that if he makes $6,000 the following day, he will give other engineers in the account a karaoke treat after National day (And it’s more like the kind of karaoke found in Kabuki rather the mellow kind of karaoke found in K-Box).

All my years studying finance has told me that technical indicators are not fully reliable in a market which is steadily increasing in terms of market efficiency. In fact, as my interest in evolutionary psychology is now beginning to eclipse my interest in finance, I believe that it’s actually easier to predict G’s sex life than what would happen to the markets tomorrow. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Chris Ng, Economics, Science | 4 Comments »

HAL, You’ve Been Invited for Tea! – A Singaporean Odyssey

Posted by intellisg on June 23, 2007

hal.jpg“I have no hesitation in thinking that a machine can be just as intelligent and just as real as a person, in principle.”

– Professor Rodney Brooks, Director, MIT (AI)

Since the advent of the computer age, automated systems have featured increasingly in every facet of work, life and play. Millions of commercial airliners take off and land safely every year managed wholly by fail proof navigation computers. Traffic lights change colors faultlessly managed by computers to ensure optimum traffic flow. Products and services are manufactured, warehoused, shipped and tracked by computers with hardly a glitch. Computers are also friendly always adopting that smooth and confident voice even when we take the wrong turn while navigating with our GPS. They don’t bitch, complain or gripe – they just hum along – excepting for what we are, warts and all.

hal2.jpgIt’s enough for me to ask the question: Do we really need human politicians to run Singapore these days? Why don’t we just replace them with high intelligent computers like HAL? You know who HAL is – don’t you? We even have one unit here, in the Intelligent Singaporean and he manages all our communications and even takes care of security along with a thousand other task – HAL’s, the quintessential fail proof, butler, chess savant, wizard extraordinaire all rolled up into a clean, efficient and uncomplaining peak performer – summarized in his own words in the 60’s sci-fi flick by Kubrick in 2001, Space Odyssey “By every practical definition, we are incapable of error!” Just to prove my point, allow me to demonstrate, why I think, it would be a good idea for PAP to consider recruiting HAL as their next parliamentarian:

Still think humans are up to the job? What do you say?

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Science, Sociology | 2 Comments »

Why Do Intelligent People Make Dumb Decisions? – Human Psychology and Decision Making

Posted by intellisg on May 17, 2007

dumb1.jpgTHE SKY is falling!

No wait it’s just another dumb mistake. I am of course talking about how intelligent people typically make stupid decisions: I know because I am one of them – the stupid who may even appear intelligent, till of course you engage me to map out your financial retirement plan.

Indeed, from Bhopal to Chernobyl—and in ninety nine out of one hundred accidents in the air, road and sea—human error has accounted for vastly more fatalities than mechanical failure. Yes, we the stupid people of this world are a destructive lot. We make stupid mistakes all the time like drilling our sleeves into walls. Good design takes out some of the edge of course, but if all fails. We the stupid can always blame those intelligent manuals for being too complicated to take stock of our limitations.

Stupid people can’t spell. That probably accounts for why firms like Google have a nifty function which if it thinks we have misspelled a word, suggests the correct spelling. Apart from being good design – they too have to pay homage to us, the stupid people. After all, we pride ourselves on being the statistical significant – there will always be more stupid people than our highly intelligent counterparts.

All of us have either seen or heard about it; seemingly well-educated, balanced and intelligent people, making bad decisions – if you need some prompting just cast your mind back to the dot.com boom during the helium filled days. Or if you missed the white elephant in the living room like I usually do, just switch on the telly – I am sure there is always something intelligently stupid about the war in Iraq.

It simply begs the question why does this happen? How do apparently intelligent people take up positions that defy any reasonable logic? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Science, Sociology | 8 Comments »

Why Only Dummies Believe In Personality Tests!

Posted by intellisg on May 14, 2007

personality1.jpgDID you know that you may be susceptible to alcoholism? No really, I am serious! Or if all of us were stranded on an iceberg somewhere in the polar ice cap – you could be the weakest link in the team? Perhaps you didn’t know, you have roughly an equal chance of being as being irresponsible as a man after his fifth shot of vodka when it comes to handling money. While I am at it, do try to stay away from any job that involves operating heavy machinery. Your chances of losing your fingers in an industrial mishap is roughly similar to how many times you pull the ring on a coke can only for it to break off! Did you know all these things? There you go! Welcome to the brave new world of personality tests and what they tell you about the things you didn’t know about yourself.

Regardless of whether you think they are profound psychological peek-a-boo’s into the deepest recesses of our minds, or simply the stuff of fortune cookies, the fact is that personality tests are increasingly featuring everywhere these days. Take, for example, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, or MMPI. It’s taken by as many as 20 million people a year and used to screen applicants from airline pilots to law enforcement agents. At the top of the test heap is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator profiler. Over one hundred and thirty companies listed in the Fortune 500 have used it to capture the psychological profile of their employees to “enhance” productivity and teamwork.

Surely there must be something to all this buzz! Hey, I mean we are not talking about $2 companies here. For goodness sake most of them are multinationals for crying out loud! So, you’re probably asking yourself, like us – well I am sure they have all done their due diligence – right? It’s hard to see them devoting the resources to just navel gazing and tarot cards. Well think again, because continuing our season of scientific myth busting – the brotherhood scientific team will bring you the answers to these questions: In this age of endless hype and spin – what do personality tests really accomplish? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Science, Sociology | 18 Comments »

Don’t Be A Crash Dummy! – Traffic Safety in Singapore

Posted by intellisg on May 14, 2007

dummy1.jpg“All bus stops will be reviewed to see IF they need to be fitted with safety bollards.”

Land Transport Authority (LTA) Spokesperson. 04 May 2007

Safety bollards (1m high) are made of steel sections filled with concrete, and are used to absorb part of the impact if a vehicle runs out of control. Safety bollards have been installed at 1,500 bus stops since 1999. The review to incorporate them to cover the rest of bus stops island wide comes after another accident last Tuesday, this time involving a bus stop that did not feature safety bollards. The outcome was tragic, three women were killed and four others seriously hurt when a car ploughed into a crowded bus stop at Bendemeer Road in May 1998. Neither is this an isolated incident either in September 2003, six people were injured, three critically, when a car slammed into a bus stop in front of Jurong Camp in Upper Jurong Road. And in June 1997, one man was killed and two others were injured when a car rammed into a bus stop at Lavender Street.

It raises the question how safe are bollards in reality? And the broader question of how do we manage the safety factor and what actually forms much of this science of risk management?

In this special investigative report, the brotherhood press has assembled a scientific team to examine much of the science of safety and bring to the fore front some disturbing issues which you simply need to know – if you don’t want to end up as a crash dummy! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Science, Sociology, Technology | 7 Comments »

Genetic Engineering … Nah! ….. No Wait!

Posted by intellisg on March 13, 2007

You can recognize a bio-conservative ten miles away. Apart from being technophobes, they also hate anything to do with the sciences. The conversation starts well enough, till of course they register my space tie which I wear every Monday. You know the one with the small dainty prints of space shuttles floating helplessly in the turquoise blue dotted with stars. That’s the cue for them to suitably adopt that casual condescending timbre of sanctimony and rant on about some clap trap abstraction about listening to ones inner voice. Whatever that really means, let me just try………..one green bottle standing on the wall……two green bottles………..nope, no voice there………not even from my split personality. Besides, the last time I heard of anyone hearing voices, they were either serial killers or busy ploughing a plane into a building. Didn’t you realize it’s unhealthy to hear voices! Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Politics, Science, Sociology | 13 Comments »

It’s Time To Stop Feeding The Monkeys

Posted by inspir3d on February 25, 2007

Lately, I have noticed something very strange – people regularly resort to pseudo-science, particularly Darwinism, to make sense of history, culture, politics, arts and even something as mundane as car maintenance. It’s everywhere these days, if only one cares to tune in and seek it out.

Policy makers are the worst, they regularly tell us welfare is bad. And why is it bad? Because it destroys our Asian work ethics by eroding away our Asian values. The key word here isn’t a word as much as it is a mere punctuation, the argument stops there, it doesn’t go on further. That’s the problem. Managers are even worse, they come up with statements like, “If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger” (obviously they have never negotiated with a freight train before.) Again we see the finality of the argument, this time in its wonderful completeness. It doesn’t even go on to the next sentence. There in lies the beauty of a circular argument, it’s self explanatory. Even parents who presumably love and care for their kids regularly say, “They just need to learn the hard way.” And everyone looks up and says, “OK.” As if it’s cut and dried. So what’s happening here? Am I like Rip Van Winkle who suddenly wakes up from a marathon slumber only to discover something has suddenly overtaken the human race? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Science, Sociology | 58 Comments »

When Bio-Technology Spells “IR” – Impossible Research.

Posted by inspir3d on February 10, 2007

“It may work fine in practice,” goes a joke researchers make at their own expense.
“The trouble is, it just doesn’t work in theory.”

In the last 30 years, the global bio-technology (BT) industry has attracted more than $300 billion in capital. Much of this investment is predicated on the belief this new science heralds the next best thing since sliced bread. After all, the world is heading inexorably towards a demographic apocalypse – people are living longer and are getting sick more often. Against this backdrop of human fragility anything to do with handrails, adult diapers, wheelchairs, drug therapy and stem cell research just looks like a sure fire bet.

But, how profitable is the BT business model actually? Can the dream be practically realized? Are there any pitfalls? And, more importantly, how does a country like Singapore which doesn’t have either the hard or soft attributes leverage on this opportunity successfully?

As it is today, the BT industry still looks like an emerging sector, and even then, that is only if you are forgiving enough to believe that past performance is a good indication of future performance. To understand why BT has managed to crave up its fair share of adherents from both the private and public sector, one needs to appreciate its historical contours. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Business, Economics, Science | 8 Comments »

The “Intelligent Design” of Monkey Business – Lessons from an American Classroom

Posted by inspir3d on February 1, 2007

The struggle between evolutionists and creationists has never been so cogent – as the world begins to define and sharpen itself through the process of globalization, schools of thought and states of mind are continuously being hammered, harmonized and reconciled into one extruded long stream of logic. Sticking up along like kinks on a smooth straight line remain two lumps strangely at odds with each other, standing at opposite lengths and eyeballing each other menacingly – they are the evolutionist and creationist.

Central to the evolutionist and creationist debate is how policy makers, educators and parents reconcile the eschatological gulf between these two opposing camps: to effectively profile an educational program to holistically explain both the sciences and the phenomenon of evolution without compromising on accuracy and depth – against this goal lies a complex tapestry of contradictions. For one, both creationist and evolutionist have rival narratives accounting for man’s origins, rival roadmaps about what the deeper meaning of life is, rival sets of philosophies governing change and stasis, and above all, rival endings about how the book of life will come to an end.

One way to understand the various aspects of this great divide is to look at its recent historical baseline in the US and chart its course to where it has settled these days. The present struggle over evolution is often seen by defenders of Darwinism as the clash of the titans in which creationism is a part of a general right-wing ideology that justifies the formation of a traditionalist autocratic class, wholly based on the ideal of protecting, “our way of life,” against assaults from post modernist adherents who they see as intent on overturning long held moral values into immoral compromises. These adherents are usually found in Marlboro land in the US (you know the cowboy who only shots blanks because he is puffing himself to extinction), more popularly known as the rural, South, the Midwest, and the Southwest, proudly counting themselves among the supporters of the current Bush Republican administration than among urban Northern Democrats (Coincidentally, this is also the place where they all believe aliens go around abducting people after getting bored of that, they go around forming crop circles.)  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in B'hood, Education, Religion, Science | 15 Comments »