Saturday, December 30, 2006

World Affairs - Saddam Execution - Death of a Dictator

Saddam Hussein was executed by hanging this morning. It marks the end of 3 decades of violent rule by a leader who ruled Iraq by fear. A short profile of the former Iraqi leader by BBC can be found here.

He brought Iraq to the brink of bankruptcy through an 8 year war with Iran from 1980-1988 and invaded Kuwait in 1990. The war with Iran ended in a ceasefire and Iraq was evicted from Kuwait in a short campaign by a US led multinational force which decimated the Iraqi forces. However, in the usual self delusional state of a psychotic dictator, Saddam declared the Gulf War, which he described as the Mother of all Battles, as a victory for Iraq.

In March 2003 , 2 years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the US and a coalition of nations invaded Iraq believing that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction. Within 2 months, most of Iraq was under coalition control and Saddam Hussein went into hiding.

In December 2003, Saddam Hussein was captured in a special operations conducted by the US 4th Infantry Division and Special Forces.

Although Iraq is far away from Singapore and we are far removed from the action. I do keep myself updated on the war in Iraq, having served in the Singapore Armed Forces as a citizen soldier and currently in the reserves. The war in Iraq is very much different from the conventional warfare of the past and the US Army has suffered losses to insurgents who conducts ambushes and hit & run raids and who can simply disappear into the general population. I am not sure how the US can exit from Iraq but my heart goes out to the brave soldiers of the US Armed Forces.

As reported by Global Security:
The number of US casualties are as follows:

US named dead: 2,939
US reported dead: 63
US wounded: 22,401

The demise of Saddam Hussein hopefully ends another violent chapter in the history of Iraq and provides some good news to end the year.

Tech - Internet Access affected by Taiwan Quake

The 7.1 magnitude earthquake which hit Taiwan on Tuesday damaged 6 undersea cables carrying Internet and other traffic. I have experienced problems with slow Internet access in the office and most of the time the rectifications take a few hours but this time round there was no access for 2-3 days. Only local sites and emails to local addresses were accessible, I was trying to conduct research on a deal but Google was down, I sent emails but they bounced back... on the other hand there were many people on leave, taking advantage of the long weekend holiday and nothing much was done in the end. Finally did some real paperwork to wrap up the year.... my accountants have been chasing me for the paperwork anyway!

Around the world, the disruption to the Internet had a more profound effect on some. In China, a student's hope of studying in the US is threatened as he has a deadline to file his application to study for his MBA in the US (International Herald Tribune).

It is interesting to note that the Taiwan earthquake comes exactly 2 years after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami.

Well thankfully, most Internet services are up and we have a long weekend ahead of us, going back to work only on Wednesday.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Food - Ju Shin Jung - Korean BBQ

It was my wife's birthday last Saturday and I wanted to try a different cuisine for once. A colleague recommended this Korean BBQ place in West Coast that he said was quite good. I tried to Google and found that it had quite good reviews. I tried to make reservations but was told that they were full for the night and they directed me to their new outlet at East Coast.

Anyway, when we reached there, it was a brightly lit place with seats for 764. The service was prompt and the staff courteous and they also employed Korean service staff. I also saw a number of Korean families having dinner there (My take is that if Japanese go to a Japanese restaurant in Singapore, it should be worth going). Being new to Korean BBQ, we casually ordered the Boneless beef rib and Ginseng marinated pork ribs, which came with like a zillion side dishes (left) which are mostly vegetables namely cabbage (kimchi), radish and potato etc.

On a side note, we were given 2 pill like items and a bottle of cold tea and water . My wife thought the pills were sugar for the tea and I stupidly proceeded to place 1 of the "sugar pills" into my tea. Voila the pill started to expand vertically and I finally realised that it was a bloody hand towel.....

The staff helped with the cooking of the meat and they tasted great, but I would advise cooking your own meat so you can cook it the way you like. Apologies for the empty picture of the BBQ grill, the food was so good I only remembered to take a picture after we finished the food!

Their menu is not extensive but the food is pretty good.....

Ju Shin Jung Korean BBQ
27 West Coast Highway #01-18/19 YESS Centre 1F S117867

East Coast Park, next to Long Beach Seafood, near to McDonald's ( not too sure of actual address)

I'll give it a rating of 4/5

Life - Help with babysitting

I was reading Penelope Trunk's blog post on the difficulty of getting a good babysitter and I was thinking that here in Singapore, we are actually quite fortunate. Most of my friends who have kids are able to rely on their parents to help take of their kids while they pursue their careers as a dual income family is quite common. In the last couple of years I have attended my fair share of weddings, in 2004, I attended about 15 weddings! And now, the babies are coming and as such, conversations steer towards pregnancy and parenthood, with childcare being on top of most parents' minds. My mom helps my sister to take care of her 2 kids and she has been doing this for the past 10 years. My sister has recently shifted into the flat next to my Mom's and that makes things even easier. So I was thinking that when my turn comes, will I be able to get my Mom to help take care of the baby. Thankfully, my mother in law is a babysitter and she specialises in taking care of infants.... whew.

The issue here is that our parents' are getting on in their years and whether it is fair to get them to help out during their retirement years. We can always argue that it will provide them with an opportunity to interact with their grandchildren etc.. the debate continues. The optimal solution will be that my wife can take care of the baby full time and we can bring the baby to visit our parents often enough. Once again, life is seldom perfect and we often have to contend with the hand that we have been dealt.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the grandparents who have volunteered their time to help take care of their grandchildren... Kudos!