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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ten Different Permutations Of Ethyl Alcohal The Hight Cost Of Gratting Hight!

Many like to tilt one back now and again — or again and again. And the price of alcohol, in its various guises, ranges from free jailhouse hooch to holy shit! For the budget-conscious boozer there’s a certain cost-benefit analysis to purchasing your tipple of choice. For the uber-rich, getting lit never cost so much.

Is it worth the price, or a case of fools and their money?

So we’re talking wine, Bourbon, Scotch, beer, Cognac, you name it. Some in the list are artifacts of history, some are still being made, and some are just plain kitsch.

Ten different permutations of ethyl alcohol; the high cost of getting high:

10. $100 Market Price — $7,686 for One Bottle of Beer
It stands to reason that the working man’s Champagne is the only product on this list that the working man can afford. But at $100 a bottle, Sam Adams’s “Utopias” is too rich for my blood alcohol level. It does come bottled in a cute, brewing-kettle shaped bottle, and with an alcohol content of 25% by volume (strongest beer in the world), it gives a bit of bang for the buck.

However, $7,686 was paid at auction for the first bottle of Tutankhamun Ale. It was developed by Cambridge University scientists who gleaned the recipe from hieroglyphics and brewing dregs from the catacombs of one of Tut’s in-laws. The remaining lot of beer was sold for about $76 per bottle.

9. $350 Bourbon

Evan Williams 23 year old Bourbon tops the bourbon elite with a price tag of $350.

It is available only at the distillery.

8. $10,000 Cognac

The big Cognac houses always seem to one-up each other for the distinction of super-duper-ultra-deluxe-mega-killer-kick-A Cognac. The latest entry is Remy Martin’s venerable Louis XIII’s upscale “Black Pearl,” selling for over $10,000 a bottle. Unlike the regular Louis XIII bottling (about $1500), Black Pearl is blended from 1200 different eau-de-vie raging in age from 40 to 100 years. It’s so exclusive that it’s sold by invitation only. Lowlifes can’t even look at the product at their website without a password. (Oo la la!)

7. $14,730 Bottle of Champagne
Yes, I know Champagne is wine and I already have a wine category,

but it deserves a special category because it’s… well its Champagne!
In 2005, a Methuselah of 1990 Louis Roederer Cristal, fetched $14,730 at auction. A Methuselah (explanation) is a giant bottle of Champagne equal to eight regular sized (750ml) bottles.

So, really it was only like $1,841.25 a bottle. What a deal!

6. $54,000 Rum

Irie irie, mon! Jamaican rum for $54,000? Four bottles of this rum bottled in the 1940’s were discovered recently. Why it’s believed to be so valuable, I do not know. I didn’t think rum was trendy

enough to fetch this price. Maybe Bob Marley pickled something in it.

5. $75,000 Scotch Whisky

With a release price of $38,000, a bottle of The Macallan “Fine and Rare Collection,” 1926, was sold to a South Korean businessman in 2005 for $75,000. Unlike many other products on this list, this bottle is not a collectable for collection’s sake, nor an excuse for a lavish bottle. The money paid for this Scotch is money paid for the stuff in the bottle, and it‘s meant to be drunk. For these reasons, I elect The Macallan as the most expensive social lubricant on Earth. If you’d care to try it without investing in a whole bottle,

an Atlantic City casino sells a 2oz. pour for only $3,300!

4. $160,000 Bottle of Wine

At a 1985 Sotheby’s auction, a bottle of 1787 Chateau Lafite was purchased for $160,000. Even without adjusting for inflation, this still stands as the most expensive bottle of wine ever sold (or bought even). Why so much for an undrinkable bottle of rotted vinegar? This relic was in the proud possession

of Thomas Jefferson, whose initials are etched into the bottle.

3. $200,000 Bottle of Irish Whisky

Found in 2005, this century-old bottle is from Ireland’s Nun’s Island distillery (defunct since 1908). Attempts to locate a sample came to naught until a lady, unsolicited, walked into a liquor store with a bottle in hand. She thought it “might be worth something” and wanted to see if the proprietor knew what it might be worth. It’s worth something, but priced at over $200,000 it has yet to sell in over 2 years. When it sells, it will be by far the most expensive bottle of whisky or whiskey. Any takers?

2. $1,000,000+ Bottle of Vodka?
How crazy will the trendy, high-end vodka craze get? I’ve always been fairly certain vodka is all about a cool bottle and a hip name. Now I’m certain. “Diva” vodka seeks to trump all-comers — game, set, and burp. This triple distilled vodka, like many other vodkas, is also charcoal filtered. The charcoal in Diva’s case comes from a different array of carbon bonds; the vodka is filtered through crushed diamonds. But what really ups the price is the custom-made bottle. Inside each bottle is an array of real gemstones, the quantity and quality of which depend on how much you’re willing to pay. A high-end bottle of Diva (“low-end” being $3,700) will cost you more than a million dollars. Wanna do shots?

1. $1,500,000 Bottle of Tequila?

Tequila Ley .925 sells a 6 year old 100% Blue Agave Tequila in a pure platinum bottle for $225,000.

Yes, some sucker actually bought one. If you’re on a budget, you can get the half-gold,

half-platinum version for $150,000.
The company now produces a one million Euro bottle ($1.5 million USD) which is platinum encrusted with diamonds. They must be a bit hard-pressed to sell it, since they offer a one hundred thousand Euro finder’s fee if you can find a buyer. If the bottle sells, it’ll be the most expensive bottle of any alcohol. Curiously, the company is not too discriminating as to what goes in the bottle; they’ll fill it with some Cognac if you prefer.

BONUS: Most Expensive Bottle of Wine Never Sold?

In 1989, another of Thomas Jefferson’s Bordeaux’s (this time a 1787 Chateau Margaux) was taken to the Four Seasons restaurant in New York to show it off. Near the end of the evening, a waiter bumped the dinner table and upended the wine, resulting in a total loss. A total insured loss of $225,000. Cheers!


Top 10 Plants That Will Kill You!

Top 10 Plants That Will Kill You!

Ok, I know I wasn’t supposed to do any more plant lists, but I couldn’t help myself.

By killer plants I do not mean as in Top 10 Carnivorous Plants, plants that kill little insects, and the occasional rat, but plants that are well known to kill people.

All plants contain some toxins as protection against predators.

We already know, from Top 10 Poisonous foods we love to eat, that even apple  seeds contain traces of cyanide. In this list we are going to look at some plants that contain such high doses, of toxins to which humans are sensitive, that some can kill you in a matter of hours.

In some cases, many animals have a much higher tolerance to the poison than humans, and all the plants on this list are known human killers.

It’s shocking to read this and recognize some of the plants that you grew up  playing around, knowing that just one bite could have killed you, and knowing just how curious children are.

Many of these plants’ main victims are children, as they often have bright fruit that look rather appetizing, and children have an even lower tolerance to the poison, so it takes a lot less to do the job.

Who knows, this information might come in handy someday.


10-White snakeroot
White snake root, also known as White Sanicle or Tall Boneset, is a highly poisonous plant,

native to North America. Their flowers are white and, after blooming, small fluffy

seeds blow away with the wind. This plant has a high % of the toxin tremetol,

which is not known for killing humans directly, but indirectly.

When the plant is eaten by cattle, the toxin is absorbed into their milk and meat.

When humans then, in turn, eat the beef or drink the milk, the toxin enters

the body and causes something called milk sickness, which is highly fatal.

Thousands of ignorant European settlers died from milk sickness in America

in the early 19th century. It is also believed that Abraham Lincoln’s mother,

Nancy Hanks, died from milk sickness.

9-Doll’s eyes
Doll’s eye, also known as White Baneberry, is a flowering plant native to Eastern and Northern North America. The Doll’s eyes comes from the striking fruit of the plant, which is a 1cm in diameter white berry with a black stigma scar, which looks very eye like. Although the whole plant has been declared toxic for human consumption, the most poisonous part is the concentrated toxins in the fruit, which have sadly claimed a number of children’s lives, as they also have a sweet taste. The berries contain a carcinogenic toxin, which has an almost immediate, sedative effect on human cardiac muscles and can easily cause a quick death.

8-Angel’s trumpets
Angel’s trumpets are flowering plants, native to the tropical regions of South America,

but found around the world. The name Angel’s trumpet comes from the pendulous

trumpet shaped flowers, covered in fine hairs, that hang from the tree.

Flowers come in a variety of sizes (14-50cm) and in a variety of colors, including white,

yellow, orange and pink. All parts of the plant contain toxins,

such as tropane alkaloids scopolamine and atropine.

The plant is sometimes turned into a tea and ingested as a hallucinogenic, recreational drug.

As levels of toxicity varies prom plant to plant,

and part to part, it is almost impossible to know how much toxins you have ingested.

As a result of this, many users have overdosed and died from it.

7-Strychnine tree
The Strychnine tree, better known as poison nut or Quaker Button, is a medium sized tree, native to India and South East Asia. The small seeds inside the trees’ green to orange fruit, is highly toxic, being filled with poisonous alkaloids’ Strychnine and Brucine. 30 mg of these toxins are enough to be fatal to an adult, and will lead to a painful death from violent convulsions due to simultaneous stimulation of sensory ganglia in the spine.

6-English Yew
The English Yew is native to Europe, Northern Africa and South West Asia. It is a small to medium tree that has seeds enclosed in a soft, red, berry like armor. The berry armor is the only part of the fruit that is not poisonous and this allows birds to eat the fruit and spread the seeds without ill effect. It takes a dose of about 50g to be fatal to a human. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, muscle tremors, convulsion, collapse and finally cardiac arrest. In cases of severe poisoning, death can set in so fast that the other symptoms are missed.

5-Water hemlock
Water hemlock, or poison parsnip, is a group of highly poisonous plants that is native to the temperate regions of the northern hemisphere. The plants all have very distinctive small white or green flowers, arranged in an umbrella shape. Water hemlock is considered to be North America’s most poisonous plant as it is incredibly poisonous to humans. The plants contain a toxin named cicutoxin which causes seizures. This poison is found in all parts of the plant but is most concentrated in the roots, which is most potent in the spring. Besides the almost immediate seizures, other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pains, tremors and confusion. Death is usually caused by respiratory failure or ventricular fibrillation and can occur just a few hours after ingestion.


Wolfsbane, also known as leopard’s bane, woman’s bane or devils helmet, is a plant belonging to the buttercup family. These perennial plants are native to mountainous regions of the northern hemisphere. The plant contains very large quantities of a poison called alkaloid pseudaconitine, which used to be used by the Ainu people of Japan as poison for hunting, on the tips of their arrow heads. In cases of ingestion, symptoms, which include burning in the limbs and abdomen, sets in immediately. In cases of large doses, death can occur within 2-6 hours and 20ml is enough to kill an adult human.
Interestingly, Wolfsbane is also mentioned in mythology and werewolf lore as being able to either repel the werewolves/lycanthropes, or to induce the wolf state regardless of the moon phase. Hence the name.

3-Rosary Pea
The Rosary Pea, also known as Crab’s eye or Jumbie bead, is a slender perennial climber that twines around trees, shrubs and hedges. The plant is native to Indonesia, but grows in most parts of the world. It is best known for its seeds, which are used as beads, and have a bright red to arrange color with a single black spot (not unlike an inverted black widow). The poison contained in the plant (abrin) is very similar to the poison ricin, found in some other poisonous plants. There is one main difference between these poisons, and that is that abrin is about 75 times stronger than ricin. This concludes that the lethal dose is much less, and in some cases as little as 3 micrograms can kill an adult human. Using seeds as beads even poses a huge threat, as people have been known to die, just from pricking
their fingers on the drill bits used to drill the tiny holes in the seeds.

Belladonna, also known as Devils berries, death cherries or deadly nightshade, is native to Europe, North Africa and Western Asia. It is also one of the world’s most poisonous plants as it contains Tropane alkaloids, some of which cause delirium and hallucinations. Other symptoms of Belladonna poisoning include loss of voice, dry mouth, headaches, breathing difficulty and convulsions. The whole plant is poisonous, but berries usually play the greatest risk, as they are sweet and tend to attract children. 10 – 20 berries can kill an adult, but it only takes 1 leaf (in which the poisons are

much more concentrated) to kill a full grown man.
Strangely, our very “intelligent” ancestors of the Elizabethan era (1500s) used Belladonna as part of their daily cosmetic routine. They used drops made from the plant as eye drops, to dilate their pupils, which was considered attractive and gave the user a dreamy look. Not being very knowledgeable at the time, the women also drank cyanide, or “bled” themselves to obtain a pale, translucent skin color, in addition to painting their faces white with a lead based paint called cerise.

1-Castor plants

Thinking back to the time your mother forced Castor oil down your throat, I bet you would never have guessed that it came from the most poisonous plant in the world (even if it did taste like it).

Castor plants are indigenous to the Mediterranean basin, eastern Africa and India, but are widely grown as an ornamental plant. A toxin called ricin is found throughout the plant, but is concentrated in the seeds/beans (which castor oil is made from). One raw seed is enough to kill a human in 2 days, which makes for a long, agonizing and unstoppable death. The first symptoms will be experienced within a few hours and will include a burning sensation in the throat & mouth, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhea and vomiting. The process is unstoppable and the final cause of death will be dehydration.

Strangely, humans are the most sensitive to these seeds, as it takes 1-4 to kill a full grown human, 11 to kill a dog and a whopping 80 seeds to kill a duck.

The castor plant currently holds the Guinness World Record for most poisonous plant.


Apple iOS 6 vs. Android vs. Windows Phone (Comparison Chart)

By Ginny Mies, Armando Rodriguez, Daniel Ionescu, PCWorldJun 11, 2012 3:15 PM

printApple's World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) kicked off today with the unveiling of iOS 6 for the iPhone and iPad. Apple is promising over 200 new features in the latest version of its mobile operating system, but only a few of them were highlighted in the keynote.
June is an exciting month for smartphone fanatics as Microsoft is expected to unveil the next generation of Windows Phone at an event next Wednesday, June 20 while Google is expected to reveal its plans for the next version of Android, codenamed "Jellybean."
While some of the features Apple announced today already exist on competing platforms, Apple is putting its own twist on these updates. For example, Siri, Apple's voice-activated virtual assistant, is even smarter now with support for sports, movies, and restaurants. Siri can also directly launch apps, but you still can't control these third-party apps with your voice.
Apple is also breaking up with Google Maps and launching its own Maps application with iOS 6. It includes local business information, Yelp integration, real-time traffic updates, and turn-by-turn navigation. Naturally, Apple has also added Siri integration to maps so you can ask questions along your journey such as, "Are we there yet?" or "Where's the next gas station?" Apple has also added a 3D/fly-over mode to its Maps application, which shows you detailed 3D models of buildings and landmarks.

These updates certainly give Microsoft and Android something to chew on. While both competing platforms offer voice-command support, those features are crude in comparison to Siri's artificial intelligence and natural dictation. Microsoft's Bing Maps could definitely use a revamp in the next version of Windows Phone as its turn-by-turn directions feature is quite clunky (you must tap your phone at each turn).
We'll be revisiting this comparison later this month as Microsoft and Google roll out new versions of their respective mobile platforms.



App Retention Increasing; iPhone(IOS 7 lakh) Ahead of Android(4 lakh)

In great news for the mobile app market, app retention rates are improving as app publishers shift from an early focus on “downloads” to more mature customer acquisition and retention models. The overall app industry improved retention rates 19% over the last year. App publishers for the iPhone and iPad saw the greatest success, with retention rates 52% higher than those on Android.
Apps Marketing Evolves

In the early days of the App Store and Android Market (Google Play) publishers focused on developing an initial presence and, with the limited data available, could only measure success by the total number of downloads. However, many of those downloads were poorly acquired and never turned into long-term customers.
In March 2011, Localytics published research finding that 26% of downloaded apps were only used one time. Fortunately, another 26% of customers used new apps more than 10 times. This contributed to a shift in app marketing away from download metrics to a focus on customer retention and lifetime value that is producing results one year later.
Among customers who first downloaded a phone or tablet app in 3Q 2011, compared to 3Q 2010, both one-time usage and long-term retention numbers improved. One-time usage of apps dropped over 15%, from 26% to 22%. More importantly, those who used an app more than 10 times in the following months improved 19%, growing from 26% to 31%.

Apps Become Even More Dominant

As app customer retention rates improve, apps are increasing their dominance over the mobile. Nielsen reported that the average number of apps on a smartphone increased from 32 to 41 and apps’ share of internet usage increased from 73% to 81% in the last year.
Comparisons with the online web are also revealing. Pew Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released their 2012 State of the News Media report in March 2012. The report found that 29% of news app users launched the app more than 10 times — per month. That compares very favorably to the fewer than 10% of online users who visited a news website more than 10 times per month.
One of the key takeaways of these studies is that a publisher’s app and web users are very different. Websites attract many casual users who arrive from search, social or referring links. App users more purposefully install an app and return directly to it, self-selecting themselves as more qualified and more valuable customers.
iPhone & iPad Crushing Android App Retention

But not all apps are created equally. Delving deeper into the retention and user metrics, iPhone and iPad users are 52% more loyal to their apps than Android users. A healthy 35% of Apple iOS users launched an app more than 10 times after downloading, compared to 23% of Android users. The average Android app also suffers from 24% one-time usage rate compared to just 21% one-time usage rate for iPhone and iPad.

Improvements in both platforms suggests that many app publishers are simply building better apps, whether the app targets the mass market or a niché market. The general public surely gained experience over the last year too, and are likely making more informed, discerning choices about what apps to try.
iPhone’s far greater app retention rates is also an echo of the 94% retention rate of iPhone itself compared to 47% for Android (Piper Jaffray). When users upgrade from iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4S, they might download the same apps (or transfer them) to their new device. In most cases, that iPhone 4S will look “new” to the app publisher even though the user might have months of prior exposure to the app on the older iPhone 3GS. To correctly identifying returning users across devices, publishers need to record registration data as part of their app analytics.


Localytics provides app analytics for iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and HTML5 apps on over 300 million devices. Two of the key metrics provided are the number new users and the retention of those new users. For this study, Localytics compared the retention rates of two cohorts: users who first downloaded an app to a new device in Q3 2010 and users who first downloaded in Q3 2011. The retention metrics for each cohort are based on how many times apps were launched on the devices through March 15th of the following year. All results are based on worldwide app usage.

Theories of Democratization

Theories of Democratization

Authors: Welzel, C.
Publication Year: 2009
Publication Name: Democratization
Language: English


The chapter analyzes various theories of democratization and assesses their contribution to understand the driving forces of democratization processes.

Theories of Democratization Ref:worldvaluessurvey.org

National-level Value scores by country

Written by Ronald Inglehart

National-level value scores on the two major values dimensions, for all available nations and waves.

The World Values Surveys were designed to measure all major areas of human concern, from religion to politics to economic and social life. It turns out that two dimensions dominate the picture: (1) Traditional vs. Secular-rational values and (2) Survival vs. Self-expression values. These two dimensions explain more than 70 percent of the cross-cultural variance on scores of more specific values.

National-level value scores on the two major values dimensions, for all available nations and waves.
Wvs Value Scores Ref:worldvaluessurvey.org

Asia: What is Important in Life

May 12, 2007 at 3:18 am (Asia, Social, Statistic)

When the question “How is it important in your life” on the subjects like family, friends, leisure time, politics, work, religion and service to others is asked, 4 categorical answers are given: very important, rather important, not very important and not at all important. The graphs shown below here indicated how many percentage of people think it is “very important” and “rather important” on those subjects.

1. Family

People in Indonesia and Philipines top all the countries: 99.0% and 98.6% of them said that family is very important to them. However, it is a surprise to note that the strong Confucius influence country like China, Vietnam, Korea and Singapore has lower percentage of people think that family is very important to them. Why?

2. Friends
Friends, generally are not viewed as important as family. However, about 56.0% of Indonesians think that friend is very important to them, followed by Saudi Arabian (53.2%) and Japanese (48.1%). Only 20.4% and 21.8% of Chinese and Vietnamese respectively think friend is very important in their lives.

3. Leisure time

As many as 43.6% of Japanese think that leisure time is very important in their lives. Other highly industrialised countries like Singaporean (26.4%) and Korean (23.8%) think the same. However, only small minority people in China, Vietnam and Egypt think that leisure time is very important. Busy to earn livinghood i guess?

4. Politics

Apparently, compared to family or friends, politics is not an important aspect of life among Asians. 38.7% of Vietnamese think politics is very important in their lives, but only 10.1% Singaporean and 10.4% Indonesian deem the same.

5. Work

Work, surprisingly, is significant in Asian’s life. Overall, more than 50% of people think work is “very important” in their lives (except Japan and China). The top in the rank goes to Philiphines, 93.4% of them think work is very important, followed by Bangladesh (91.8%) and Indonesia (89.2%). On the other end of spectrum, in rich countries like Japan, Singapore and Korea, relatively smaller percentage of people think work is very important in their lives.

6. Religion

Religion, especially Islam, is very important in countries like Indonesia (98.1%), Egypt (97.3%) and Saudi Arabia (89.0%). China, being a communist country, only 0.66% of her people think religion is very important. Japan, being an industrialised and modern country, has only 7.3% of people think religion is important.

7. Service to others

61.8% of Egyptian think that service to others is very important in life, while only 8.6% of Japanese feel the same. Again, a pattern of strong Confucius influence countries like Korea, China, Singapore and Vietnam are seeing less people think that service to others is very important, whereby the factor of material affluence (or income) is out of question (e.g. Vietnam vs Singapore, poor vs rich). A coincident or what?

Source: World Values Survey

Couples who share housework more likely to divorce: Study

Updated 05:31 PM Sep 28, 2012PARIS -

Divorce rates are far higher among "modern" couples who share the housework than in those where the woman does the lion's share of the chores, a Norwegian study has found.

In what appears to be a slap in the face for gender equality, the report found the divorce rate among couples who shared housework equally was around 50 per cent higher than among those where the woman did most of the work.
"What we've seen is that sharing equal responsibility for work in the home doesn't necessarily contribute to contentment," said Dr Thomas Hansen, co-author of the study entitled "Equality in the Home".
The lack of correlation between equality at home and quality of life was surprising, the researcher said.
"One would think that break-ups would occur more often in families with less equality at home, but our statistics show the opposite," he said.
The figures clearly show that "the more a man does in the home, the higher the divorce rate," he went on.
The reasons, Dr Hansen said, lay only partially with the chores themselves.
"Maybe it's sometimes seen as a good thing to have very clear roles with lots of clarity ... Where one person is not stepping on the other's toes," he suggested.
"There could be less quarrels, since you can easily get into squabbles if both have the same roles and one has the feeling that the other is not pulling his or her own weight."
But the deeper reasons for the higher divorce rate, he suggested, came from the values of "modern" couples rather than the chores they shared.
"Modern couples are just that, both in the way they divide up the chores and in their perception of marriage" as being less sacred, Dr Hansen said. "In these modern couples, women also have a high level of education and a well-paid job, which makes them less dependent on their spouse financially.
They can manage much easier if they divorce," he said. Norway has a long tradition of gender equality and childrearing is shared equally between mothers and fathers in 70 per cent of cases.
But when it comes to housework, women in Norway still account for most of it in seven out of 10 couples. The study emphasised women who did most of the chores did so of their own volition and were found to be as "happy" those in "modern" couples.

Dr Frank Furedi, Sociology professor at the University of Canterbury, said the study made sense as chore sharing took place more among couples from middle class professional backgrounds, where divorce rates are known to be high.

"These people are extremely sensitive to making sure everything is formal, laid out and contractual. That does make for a fairly fraught relationship," he told the Daily Telegraph.
"The more you organise your relationship, the more you work out diaries and schedules, the more it becomes a business relationship than an intimate, loving spontaneous one.
"That tends to encourage a conflict of interest rather than finding harmonious resolutions."

"In a good relationship people simply don't know who does what and don't particularly care. Unless marriage is a relationship above anything else, then whenever there are tensions or contradictions things come to a head. You have less capacity to forgive and absorb the bad stuff."
The survey appeared to contradict another recent one across seven countries including Britain that found that men who shouldered a bigger share of domestic responsibilities had a better sense of wellbeing and enjoyed a better work-life balance.

The researchers expected to find that where men shouldered more of the burden, women's happiness levels were higher. In fact they found that it was the men who were happier while their wives and girlfriends appeared to be largely unmoved.
Those men who did more housework generally reported less work-life conflict and were scored slightly higher for wellbeing overall.
Experts suggested that, while this may be partly because they felt less guilty, the main reason could be that they had simply learnt the secret of a quiet life. AGENCIES

Apps move from mobile devices

Apps developers predict growth in television apps and even apps for connected cars in the next few years.

Updated 05:05 AM Sep 30, 2012By Shane Richmond
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about how many apps have been downloaded at an Apple event earlier this year. Photo REUTERS

Head of Technology (Editorial), The Daily Telegraph

If you have a smartphone, you will almost certainly have added a selection of apps to extend its functions. The small computer programs add specific features and the average smartphone user has more than 40

of them.
Smartphone applications have been around for a long time. The Lithuanian app store GetJar, for example, was launched in 2004, while United States' site Handango began even earlier - in 1999 - and now runs the third largest mobile application store, behind Apple and Google.
And yet, the opening of Apple's App Store in 2008 was the first time that many people were exposed to the world of smartphone apps. Apple's success with the App Store spurred other manufacturers to create their own stores. These days all the major operating system manufacturers have app stores. Google followed Apple's lead in October 2008, BlackBerry App World opened in early 2009 and Microsoft's Windows Phone Store came in October 2010.
Apps are big business. More than 30 billion apps have been downloaded from Apple's App Store, while Google's Play store has seen 25 billion downloads. Plenty of those are free apps but people are willing to spend money on apps, too. Whether they want a GPS-powered app to keep track of their exercise, a mobile recipe book complete with a built-in shopping list or just a game like Angry Birds, there is something for everyone.
While many apps are produced by established software developers, there are plenty of new entrants into this business, encouraged by the opportunity to reach a large number of people quickly, easily and relatively cheaply.
Apps are increasingly expanding beyond smartphones and tablets. A survey by Appcelerator of more than 5,000 developers found that more than 80 per cent felt they would be making apps for televisions by 2015. Three quarters of developers predicted that they would be building apps for connected cars, while 71 per cent saw a move to games consoles in the future and two-thirds expect to be writing apps for Google Glass, the search giant's augmented reality glasses.
Next week developers will gather in London for the Apps World conference at Earls Court. Addressing them will be senior figures from big companies including Samsung and Sony, new media fixtures like Facebook and Google, as well as up-and-coming stars of the app world, such as Hailo and Zeebox.
According to Appcelerator, Apple's iOS platform remains the priority for developers, with 85 per cent saying they were interested in making apps for the iPhone and 83 per cent interested in the iPad. Google's Android devices were not far behind, with 76 per cent interest in Android phones and 66 per cent keen to develop for Android tablets.
The availability of apps has now become an important factor to consider when buying a new smartphone. Apple used to enjoy large numbers of exclusive apps but increasingly, after establishing themselves on iOS, developers have created Android versions of their apps.
RIM, the BlackBerry manufacturer, and Microsoft both face a challenge in convincing people to commit to their new operating systems, without having a large store of apps to put in front of them from day one. Maintaining developer interest is vital.
Microsoft, keen to establish Windows 8 as a viable alternative to Apple and Google, still has some work to do to interest developers in its hardware. Just 33 per cent of developers said they were 'very interested' in making apps for Windows 8 tablets.
These things change quickly, of course. A successful launch this autumn for Nokia's new Windows Phone 8-powered Lumia handsets will go a long way to encourage developers to explore the platform and more competition can only be good for customers.


Friday, September 28, 2012

How Myanmar can avoid boom-bust cycles

04:45 AM Sep 26, 2012-by William Pesek

You could say that Myanmar won over Kevin Murphy at "min-ga-la-ba", or "hello" in Burmese.
The American first came to this isolated land in the 1980s as a student and returned in the 1990s as a journalist. In 2002, he came back again - this time for good and as an investor.
"You can say I was hooked early on," Mr Murphy, 51, said in Myanmar's capital, Naypyidaw, recently. "It's nice to see the rest of the world catching on."
And how. EuroMoney's debut event in the nation that Rudyard Kipling once called "quite unlike any place you know about" attracted almost 900 participants. It was the largest influx of foreign investors Myanmar's 55 million people have ever seen.
More than 100 years later, Kipling is still right about Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, being a world apart.
Bankers visiting for the first time assumed travel agents were exaggerating about BlackBerrys and smart phones not working (they really don't).
They dismissed warnings that credit cards aren't accepted, even at five-star hotels. All that blather about banks and merchants only taking pristine US$100 notes (the slightest crease or fold and you're toast) seemed overdone, until you found your wad of cash worthless and wondering how to pay for dinner.
No, Myanmar isn't easy.
On the bright side, Twitter works fine in a place that just a year ago was both a pariah and police state, a contrast with, say, China.
You can update your Facebook page anytime you can find a Wi-Fi signal, again something you can't do in China. I was able to view YouTube clips of the violent 2007 crackdown on protesters by the military junta that ran the place before President Thein Sein unleashed reforms that took the world by surprise. Try typing "Tiananmen Square massacre" into search fields while visiting China. You are routed to tourism sites.
"What the world must understand is Myanmar's opening is real and irreversible," said Mr Murphy, a Managing Director at Andaman Capital Partners in Yangon, also known as Rangoon. "Really, take it from someone who has been here through previous moments of hope that change was happening. It shouldn't be doubted."
The China comparison is worth exploring further. China opened its economy without corresponding reforms to its political system. It retains an iron grip on freedom of speech, the press and the political narrative.
Myanmar is doing the opposite: It's opening socially and politically before it even has an economy of which to speak. That is creating higher expectations than many Chinese have of their leaders.
Burmese tycoon Serge Pun put it well: "A year ago, our people were afraid of the government; now the government is afraid of the people. If our leaders don't deliver, and soon, with inclusive growth, things will get difficult and they know it."
Myanmar's challenges are daunting. There are huge question marks about the role and influence of the military. What if, sceptics ask, the military fails to respect a victory by Aung San Suu Kyi's party in the next election in 2015?
Confusion reigns over a recently passed investment law. How much access will foreigners really have to Myanmar's natural resources? Too little? Too much?
Ethnic conflict is another challenge. Those in the West who idolise Ms Suu Kyi might be surprised to know her reputation at home is more mixed. Her silent treatment of the minority Rohingya Muslims irks human-rights groups and is a blemish on her status as a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Pendulum economics
Myanmar is already facing pressures that China didn't until recently. The widening gap between rich and poor is a source of growing friction among China's 1.3 billion people.
Discontent is rising amid reports of the obscene wealth being amassed by members of a ruling party that is communist in name only.
Since Myanmar won't have the luxury of ignoring these risks, its development may go smoother than, say, Vietnam's, which investors often compare with Myanmar. Vietnam is seen as a prisoner to pendulum economics: Investor sentiment swings from heady optimism to dark pessimism.
Vietnam hasn't built the institutions or found the right regulatory structure to shield itself from the whims of hot money. So, last month when the police arrested banking mogul Nguyen Duc Kien on vague charges that many feared smacked of politics, local markets tumbled. When the plight of one man imperils your economy, you have serious problems.
Myanmar can avoid these boom-bust cycles by getting the basics right today. That means telling investors clamouring to cash in on one of Asia's last frontier markets to take a deep breath and be patient.
Myanmar must craft investment laws that benefit the broader population.
"The issue is building blocks," said Irish entrepreneur Denis O'Brien, the founder and Chairman of Digicel Group, a mobile-phone-network operator. "It's important for an economy to be able to walk before it can run."
Myanmar probably doesn't aspire to become one of the Asian "tiger" economies - it wants to be its own.
With any luck, Kipling will still be right about the place a century from now. BLOOMBERG
Tokyo-based William Pesek won the 2010 Society of American Business Editors and Writers prize for commentary.

Myanmar is doing the opposite of what china had done. It's opening socially nod politically before it even has an economy of which to speak. That is creating hight expectation than many Chinese have of their leaders


THEREALSINGAPORE Tue, 09/25/2012 - 23:14

I refer to the letter "Why make it harder for a PR's spouse to work here?" (Sept 6). As a citizen married to a foreigner, I identify with the writer's frustrations. My husband, too, has found it difficult to find employment. Only in April did the Government introduce a Long-Term Visit Pass Plus (LTVP+), which grants holders healthcare subsidies and makes it easier for them to seek employment. However, the issuance of a LTVP+ comes with conditions, mainly that the couple must have a Singaporean child. My husband and I do not, and not by choice. Couples without a Singaporean child would be more favourably considered, though not guaranteed, for the LTVP+ if they have been married for at least three years. A Dependant's Pass for spouses of Employment Pass holders, though, comes with no such conditions. With this and a letter of consent from the authorities, as the writer stated, they are allowed to work. They seem to be favoured over spouses of Singaporeans. Singapore's population policies are being reviewed, and I hope that the plight of citizens like me will be considered. Policies should help foreign spouses of citizens, with or without children, to settle down and integrate instead of making them feel unwanted. Citizens should not be made to feel that they are being punished for marrying a non-Singaporean, a situation that can place undue strain on the marriage. How does this fit in with the Government's pro-family stance or the interests of citizens? It is not that the situation should be made harder for spouses of EP holders but that it should be easier for citizens married to foreign spouses to start a new life together in our own home country. Surely, this is not an unreasonable expectation.
Ref: Norhayati Lahmidi-thealsingapore

Would've read..

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Different Values: Different Democracy

Differing Values Systems Require Differing Types of Democracy

by Alan Tonkin
Stratified Democracy


In looking at the world with its widely varying values systems it is interesting to see how the word "democracy" means different things to different people. An example of this is when leaders from the Western developed world speak of democracy they generally mean constitutional democracy based on a universal franchise, multi-party system. These countries generally operate in the Blue/Orange/Green/Yellow spectrum of values systems.
However, in developing economies constitutional arrangements can vary with the values spread being across the Purple/Red/Blue/Orange/Green range. In cases such as this "democracy" means something different to the first example quoted as Purple/Red/Blue requires a modification of the type of system that is likely to be effective. In this case a firmer more directive system is likely to work best.

How Democratic Systems Vary Across Values Systems

In order to illustrate the differing types of values at the different levels it is important to make the point that "one democratic system does not fit all" as is so often demanded. If we look at the different values systems the following differences exist though each is particularly appropriate in its own environment:

Tribal System (Purple)

The Purple system covers tribal societies where there is a mutual reciprocity and kinship. This is an elegant system which on its own can be very appropriate and successful. An example of this is the tribal system still found in certain remote parts of the world which only now are being influenced by technology. It is however, still also found in the witchdoctors muti (medicine) still influencing many people in African countries as well as in other similar underdeveloped regions. It is important to note that this value system normally exists with other systems such as Red and Blue and not in isolation.

Feudal Empires (Red) - Less Developed Countries

The Red system includes many countries where following independence in the 60's there was a regression to one party states with dictators and their elites being in control. Examples include the Congo, Zimbabwe today and a variety of countries in other parts of the world. In many of these countries following the deterioration in the political climate and with the resulting deterioration in security, education and health services many of the people with the necessary skills but with opposing values systems (Blue/Orange) left these countries, thus making the practical situation on the ground even worse.

Authoritarian Democracy (Blue) - Developing Economies

The Blue system can be a friendly such as the authoritarian democracy as experienced in Singapore and latterly in China. This is the type of values system which does not encourage too much autonomy in the provinces and is based on a unitary system of government. Equally, the Blue system can be punitive and does not encourage dissent or criticism. This can result in a system which makes things work but at the same time does not encourage public debate on major issues. Strong Blue starts to soften as it acquires tinges of the Orange "Free Market" approach.

Multi-Party Democracy (Orange) - First World Developed

The Orange system allows for a multi-party system such as that found in the United States of America and the United Kingdom. This allows for significant devolution of power to the states/regions on a federal basis while at the same time providing overall benefits for citizens on key issues such as taxation, health insurance and other issues. It also results in maximising the use of assets.

Social Democracy (Green) - Developed Moving to Post-Modern

The Green System includes countries such as the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands. This system encourages Green issues such as the environment and quality of life over other issues. At this stage Social Democracies tend to be concentrated in the European Union rather than North America even though states like Minnesota in the US have many of these values present in their society. People are seen as being able to benefit equally from the resources available within a unitary system.

Integrated Democracy (Yellow) - Post-Modern

The Yellow System is a newly emerging geo-political and economic system which has in many ways started to become more visible since the events of 11 September, 2001. A number of the actions instituted by the Western democracies since that time have shown clear indications of integrated thinking coming from the Yellow system. This requires a pulling together of all the previous systems and integrating these into one integrated system. Some examples are:

Developing Economies

There is a need in developing countries for a Yellow Integral system which will allow aspects from all of the 1st Tier systems from Purple/Red/Blue/Orange through to Green. The 2nd Tier Yellow system is like the Formula 1 racing car with many gears, each suitable for differing life conditions including the integration of 1st Tier values.
There are varying levels of developing economies from smaller economies like some of those in Eastern Europe to India with its large population and with a wide range of values systems. At the same time India has a large middle class who are both literate and technologically capable. Here as in Africa values also range from Purple through to Green but with the percentages in each system being different. However, one of the key issues of developing economies is that in many cases they require a different style and type of democracy from that practiced in the post-modern world.
Another example is in the Middle East where Israel (Blue/Orange/Green) lives right next door to the Palestinian areas which are less developed and fall into the Red/Blue/Orange range. These conflicting values systems are part of the current problem with actions and reactions often being based on these conflicting values and realities with punitive Red/Blue being the dominant values.

Developed Post-Modern Economies

In the Post-modern world the values systems range is smaller, normally from Blue through to Yellow. However, even in these countries there is often evidence of the re-emergence of Red systems, particularly since 11 September, 2001. This has been evident in a number of elections held in Europe recently, including France and the Netherlands where there has been a regression to Blue values in terms of reducing immigration, controlling crime and other similar issues. Fortress Europe is still a very real reality in terms of protecting existing values.

Least Developed Economies

The question of countries like Afghanistan and the type of political system required is particularly interesting. This is a country which has a large percentage of Purple/Red values with people who come from a largely rural tribal background as well as there being a number of powerful warlords in the national mix. At the same time there is a need for the country to build a sound infrastructure based on the required Blue/Orange economic values.
This requires a new type of constitutional dispensation which allows for the management of all these values simultaneously. This has just been highlighted by the initial demand for the ex-King to be the Head of State (Purple/Red/Blue) by a significant number of the participants attending the Tribal Assembly in the setting up of an interim government for Afghanistan. In order for the country to rebuild and move forward, 2nd Tier Yellow structures are also required to bridge the gap and to add the Orange/Green developed structures and systems.
A major problem with the existing approach of most of the Post-Modern countries is that there is generally little understanding of the Purple/Red values range or how to manage these. This is one of the reasons that many of the rulers with red power value tendencies in underdeveloped nations have managed to avoid the appropriate response from the developed world required to unacceptable actions which they may have instituted.

The Way Forward

The key to these levels of ever increasing global complexity is in the understanding and implementation of Yellow Integral systems in business, politics and other spheres of life. If the world is to prosper as a whole into the 21st Century more integral managers are going to be required in all spheres of life, both in the private and public sectors.
It is unlikely that these skills will be developed through traditional leadership programs, either within existing University Business Schools or other similar institutions. It is therefore suggested that the recently formed Institute for Values and Culture in the United States could possibly fill this role in conjunction and with other global players such as the Global Values Network.
It is often said that the new South African Constitution is one of the most advanced in the world from a pure values perspective. However, if South Africa and the NEPAD (New Program for African Development) is to move forward a 2nd Tier Yellow approach is required in order to integrate the necessary points of difference into a shared vision. In terms of an Integral Approach the Yellow model can be shared and used globally where leaders share the will to overcome the problems facing them by using the best aspects from the various values systems while at the same time integrating competing demands.
As an integral part of the strategy it is important to take the values technology and through a number of key "pilot projects" provide the understanding of how to use the technology in practice. The technology is an elegant "open system" and the use of this approach provides leaders with the Yellow Integral capabilities necessary to assist in moving the global development process forward.
Following the above phase a further key requirement to a better understanding of values is for the technology to be communicated and made more widely available to global leaders and other opinion formers.

Some Conclusions

As we have seen from the above, democracy is not a one fits all solution to the problems of the world. Based on this insight the question needs to be asked how this knowledge can be communicated and transferred to global leaders as well as other global institutions including the World Bank, IMF, WTO and other similar development agencies.
There is a general realisation that neither the Orange or Green approaches work in isolation and the next step must surely be to use the Yellow 2nd Tier integral approach in moving forward. Equally, in the first phase of 2nd Tier, the approach must be in building Yellow integral structures in order to more fully understand the process of building these 2nd Tier structures and approaches.
Current QuickSCAN returns show that the existing pre-dominant values system in the world is Orange at 31.7%. The Blue value represents the most people with 30.2%, followed by Orange at 24.8%. It is important to note that Green and Yellow values systems currently represent 5% or less of the global population mix and are therefore minority values at this stage.
We need therefore, to continue to encourage the trend towards Integral Yellow as the next major step required for positive change at the global level. It is also important to bear in mind that the current Yellow leadership core is around 1.5% of the total world population and is unlikely to rise above this significantly in the short to medium term.
What is clear is that current global democratic systems need to move through the stages from authoritarian democracy (Singapore - Blue), on to multi-party (US/UK - Orange), social democracy (European Union - Green) and then on to integral democracy (Yellow - still emerging and developing).
Although the percentage of individuals possessing Yellow Integral values is currently very low it is possible to obtain significant change on a number of global issues. This however, will require the global leadership group from both the private and public sector to provide integral frameworks upon which national and regional policy direction can be developed and built.
It is suggested that one of the key ways of spreading the technology is through a global values survey using the WorldSCAN instrument as a starting point. This will provide the foundation for a better understanding of global values systems and how these influence competitiveness and the different styles of democracy currently used around the world.
As part of this integral process we would also appreciate any further insight/comments readers may have on the above proposal. These may be sent to info@globalvaluesnetwork.com
Note: We also wish to acknowledge with thanks the input from Don Beck on the graphic "Stratified Democracy: Managing the Global Mesh" on which this article is based.

Alan Tonkin

Singapore second last in Asia democracy index

I was a well-wisher at the 27th anniversary dinner of the Singapore Democratic Party last Saturday night, and in return, I got a book, Asia Democracy Index 2005. I found it so engrossing that I started reading it even as speeches were being made. Yes, it was a little rude of me. The summary index showed Singapore scoring second from bottom among 16 countries/territories. We were outdone only by Burma (Myanmar).
Within the book's 300-plus pages was a treasure trove of data from a survey conducted in the first half of 2005. They had wanted to do more than these 16 countries, but budget, logistical or safety issues prevented them from covering some places.
"They" and "them", I think, need to be carefully spelt out. The book and the survey were commissioned by the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA), based in Singapore and chaired by Chee Soon Juan, who is also the Secretary-General of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party.
However, the survey design team comprised 11 human rights activists, lawyers and academics, only one of whom is known to be Singaporean or based in Singapore. The team included Law Yuk Kai, the director of the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, Paul Scott, a professor at Kansai Gaidai University (Japan), and Nadine Kreisberger, an advisor to the Vice-Speaker of the Mongolian Parliament. Ms Salbiah Ahmad, a lawyer, is the Singaporean in the team, though she's based in Malaysia and better known as the founder of the Malaysian NGO, Sisters in Islam.
Likewise, from a cursory look at their names, the 7-member editorial board for the book did not include anyone from the Singapore Democratic Party.
Survey method
As with all surveys conducted across such different countries, from Nepal to Japan, it was hard to maintain a strictly uniform survey method, especially when budget seemed to be tight. Basically, however, it involved a partner organisation or individual researcher in each country interviewing a minimum of 100 respondents, using a standardised questionnaire with 22 questions.
How those respondents were selected seemed to be so variable that one has to be careful in interpreting the results. The only requirement set out seemed to be to poll "politically-aware" people in the country. How to define "politically aware" or to find them was left to each country researcher.
In Bangladesh, the partner organisation interviewed 110 "local-level leaders of major political parties, teachers. small businessmen, journalists, civil society participants and students."
In Indonesia, they "included reporters, student activists, pro-democracy and other social movement activists, political party activists and/or cadres, as well as professionals, business people, etc."
In some countries, the survey-takers around the cities and provinces were required to ask pre-qualifying questions. In Myanmar, "respondents had to answer correctly to ... three questions and listen to radios more than once a week to be considered politically aware", the 3 pre-qualifying questions being: "identifying the status of a politician"; knowing the name of the country's ruling committee; and "awareness of a recent political event".
Likewise in Thailand, the 2 pre-qualifying questions were: "Name at least 3 out of 4 political parties" that were then represented in Parliament (the survey was done during the Thaksin administration. before the September 2006 coup); and "State the name of the leader of the Opposition parties". The survey was conducted by graduate students from the Faculty of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, fanning out to several provinces, under the leadership of an assistant professor and a lecturer.
The chapter on Singapore gave an unacceptably brief description of the sample selection process:
The survey was conducted by the Association for Democracy in Singapore during the months of April and May 2005. Taking part in the survey were 148 people, comprising members of the general public, university students, NGO members, lawyers and journalists. They were solicited at public forums, university campuses and private meetings.
Somewhat amazingly, far-off Mongolia did best. Its survey description, 5 times longer than Singapore's, said that it was carried out by a team of statisticians and political scientists from the National University of Mongolia, with an initial total of 802 respondents. They used 4 introductory questions to screen the politically aware from the unaware, reducing the 802 to 556 respondents.
That said, it should be borne in mind that political openness varies a great deal from one country to another. A large-scale survey may be dangerous to the liberty of researchers in some countries.
Moreover, this study may be no worse than much-touted surveys showing Singapore being tops in economic attractiveness or having a fair judicial process. Or Changi Airport being number 1 in this and that. Those surveys often interview samples of businessmen and international travellers, but again, how are they selected?
As the Overview chapter in this book said,
Asking the foreign business community about the political openness of a country is vastly different than asking the local civil society. By relying on citizens living in the country for their views, the [Asian Democracy Index] ensures that its respondents are familiar with the systems that they are asked to rate.
Six categories
The 22 questions each allowed 5 possible responses: Strongly agree, Agree, Don't know, Disagree and Strongly disagree. The formula for converting the responses into a percentage score is given in the box at right.
The questions were grouped into 6 categories, the first of which was Civil rights. In this category, there were 3 questions:
1.1 People can openly question and discuss official policy without fear.
1.2 The government allows citizens to demonstrate peacefully.
1.3 Civic associations and political organisations can freely organise, mobilise and advocate their views.
The average score for the above 3 questions in each of the 16 countries surveyed can be seen from the chart below. Singapore's score was 17.3%. Oh dear.
In the next section, I will detail the answers to one of these 3 questions (#1.3), so you will get a better picture of how that score came about.
The second category concerned Elections and political processes, with 5 individual questions:
2.1 Voters can freely choose their preferred candidates/parties without interference.
2.2 There is free and fair competition among political parties.
2.3 The election authorities and election officials are independent, impartial, and effective in guaranteeing free and fair elections.
2.4 There is a legitimate, non-arbitrary, transparent process to amend the constitution and laws.
2.5 External interference is a significant problem in our political process.
The last one stumps me. Is there a typographical error in the book? Should it not have been a question in the negative? Otherwise how was it scored?
Anyway, here are the country ratings. Singapore's 36.5% leaves us third from bottom:
Governance and corruption contained 3 questions:
3.1 The government's decision-making is transparent
3.2 Elected officials and civil servants are held accountable for their actions.
3.3 The government is responsive to the public interest.
Singapore got an average score of 39.0% for these 3 questions, putting us more or less average among the various countries surveyed:
The next category was Media, with 4 questions:
4.1 The media is free and independent form government or other sources
4.2 Journalists and the media present a diversity of political views
4.3 The media contributes positively to democracy
4.4 Journalists have adequate access to public information
Our average score for these 4 questions was 28.4%.
Rule of law comprised 3 questions.
5.1 The judicial system effectively protects human rights and democratic principles.
5.2 Constitutional and legal arrangements guarantee democratic process in practice.
5.3 All military, police and security forces are subject to civilian control.
In this category, Singapore's average score was 26.9%.
The sixth and last category was Participation and representation.
6.1 Political parties provide an effective avenue for citizens' participation in politics.
6.2 Political parties adequately represent the interests of their constituents.
6.3 Civil society organisations effectively promote the public interest.
6.4 the rights and interests of vulnerable and threatened groups are adequately represented in the political system.
Again, Singapore was second from last with 34.3%.

Formula for scoring A "Strongly disagree" gets 0 points.
"Disagree" gets 1 point.
"Don't know" gets 2 points.
"Agree" gets 3 points, and
"Strongly agree" gets 4 points.

The total points are divided by 400 to get the percentage score.
Example: if for a certain question,
12% strong disagree, then 12 x 0 = 0
20% disagree, then 20 x 1 = 20
3% don't know, then 3 x 2 = 6
41% agree, then 41 x 3 = 123
24% strongly agree, then 24 x 4 = 96

Total = 245 points.
Divided by 400, gives a 61.25% score.
* * *
The percentage score for a category is the average of the scores for the various questions within that category.
Details from four questions The above charts show average scores for each category across the 16 countries. For reasons of space, it is impossible for me to go further into each of the 22 questions, but in order to give readers a glimpse of the supporting data, I shall touch on 4 particular questions -- chosen randomly just as examples -- comparing Singapore with Hong Kong, another city-state with a similar level of economy.
From the Civil rights category is this question:
As you can see, some four-fifths of Singaporeans either disagreed or strongly disagreed. In Hong Kong, almost the same proportion agreed or strongly agreed.
From the Elections and political processes category is this question:
Some 70% of Singaporeans either disagreed or strongly disagreed. Opinion in Hong Kong was much more mixed.
From the Media category:
Of course, this result doesn't surprise us. Again, some four-fifths of Singaporeans gave a negative answer. Hong Kongers felt almost the exact reverse about their media.
Lastly, an example from the Rule of law category:
Is there anything left for me to say?
In closing
As I indicated above, skepticism about these findings can arise from the variability of procedures among the various countries, and the way respondents were selected.
To some Singaporeans, the involvement of Chee Soon Juan in ARDA, which commissioned the study, would colour their assessment of the results, especially considering the relative lack of transparency about the procedural details on the Singapore side.
It is partly because I anticipated such reactions that I presented the 4 pie-charts. Were the opinion patterns represented by the pie-charts more or less what one would expect Singaporeans to say? If so, then the scorings that were derived from them would be valid.
Moreover, skepticism about Singapore's scores has to be balanced by the fact that the partner organisations and individuals conducting the surveys in other countries were also human rights activists. If one suspects the Singapore results to be unreliable on account of the involvement of an opposition politician and civil rights activist here, one has to ask: how did similar activists in other countries still come up with scores that are better than Singapore's? Weren't they equally motivated to make things look bad in their countries? Is Chee a blacker devil than all the others?
Rather than pick on these results, the best thing to do is to use an approach crucial to the scientific process -- to attempt to replicate them. I hope political science students in Singapore will take up the challenge of doing a survey based on exactly the same questions, but with more rigorous selection of respondents and with a larger sample size. Then we'll know.
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