Thursday, 19 June 2014


I have left the Singapore civil service, after 12 great years. It was not an easy decision. Whether it was representing my country as a diplomat in Washington D.C. and at UN conferences, working on climate change policy, or doing government strategic planning, I found what I did not just intellectually challenging but tremendously fulfilling. I am deeply appreciative of my colleagues at MFA and MEWR and MinLaw, and am thankful to everyone I worked with in other ministries and in other organisations. I am also grateful to the Public Service Commission and the Public Service Division for the opportunity to serve my country.
As for what comes next, I will be staying on in the US in Washington D.C., working as a consultant in Deloitte's Federal practice. As always, I'm contactable on Twitter.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Getting a Mac to accept both American and British spelling

This was bugging me, so I figured it out. If you want a Mac's spell-check to accept both American and British spelling, here's how to do it:
  • Go to System Preferences - Keyboard and choose the Text tab.
  • Under Spelling, make sure it says "Automatic By Language", then click on "Set up:".
  • Under English, make sure "American English" and "British English" (and Australian and Canadian English if you'd like) are all checked/ticked. By default, only one kind of English is checked (American English in the case of my bought-in-Philly MacBook Air).
That should prevent the red squiggly lines from appearing in phrases like the following: "After analysing and scrutinising the man's sizeable goitre, my judgement was that its colour might reflect anaemia.".

Thursday, 6 March 2014

In Space, No One Can Hear You Mine

I wrote a piece on why Bitcoin will never work as an interplanetary currency between Earth and Mars (due to the protocol and physics).

In Space, No One Can Hear You Mine: Why Bitcoin remains resolutely earthbound 

Monday, 16 December 2013

Where do Singaporeans in the US live?

So, I've been studying how to use ArcGIS and here was the fun results of one project - mapping out where all the 26754 people who claim Singapore as their birthplace live in America. Map was created using ArcGIS and county-level data from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. (There's also finer census tract-level data, but it was a bit problematic to use for a bunch of reasons that I won't get into here.)

While "Singapore-born" includes a number of people who were born in Singapore as the children of American expats who now live in the US, as well as a number of people who gave up their citizenship, I suspect that this data is a relatively accurate proxy for where Singaporeans live in the U.S.

As the graph shows, not unsurprisingly, Singaporeans are concentrated on the East and West coasts, My analysis of the data show over 10,000 living within the Boston-New York-Philadelphia-Washington DC corridor, about 5000 living within 250 miles of L.A., and just under 5000 living within 250 miles of the Bay Area. The next highest concentrations are in Texas and then in Chicago/Ann Arbor.

(I've also done the methodology with the Malaysia-born, to show that this methodology works.)

So there you go - a good way of figuring out where there's a built-in market for someone who wants to start a Singaporean restaurant. Among other uses of the data, of course.

Friday, 28 December 2012

On the paucity of posts

I recognise that people searching for my name online often stumble upon this site, and I thought I should put up this post to explain why, unfortunately, does not quite capture the entirety of me, or even the persona I wish to project.

The difficult thing with maintaining this blog is that - sadly for my writing though great for my career - life as a diplomat in Washington DC is fairly demanding. Which leaves precious little time to write substantively. Meanwhile, Twitter has taken over as my platform for spur of the moment, throwaway thoughts.

I am, of course, always willing to engage either in comments below, via e-mail [daryl dot sng at g mail dot com], or on social media. If you wish to talk about foreign affairs and international relations, including US-Singapore bilateral relations, US defence and security policies in Asia, nuclear non-proliferation, and US-South Asia relations, my work e-mail address is daryl_sng [at]

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The Airport Shuffle

All these stories about Thanksgiving airport crowds reminds me of how different airports used to be pre-9/11. I recall having a ticket for a morning flight to London for an intersession break during college, and having stayed up almost all night the night before (probably to finish a take-home exam). After packing my luggage, I let myself sleep, telling myself I'd only take a short nap... next thing I knew, I woke up in my dorm room about an hour before my flight. Rushed out, grabbed a cab, made it to Logan Airport with about 20 minutes before flight time - and still managed to check in and make it to the gate in time. Those were the days.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Levon Helms

"The Weight" has been the song that my iPhone chooses to sync with my car stereo for the last few days, even before the news came out about Levon Helm. Perhaps my phone knew something.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Signal 30

Some thoughts on Mad Men, Season 5, Episode 5:

I really love that Mad Men is in 1966, since it's one of my favourite years of American history. Last week after the Speck murders were referenced I said to my wife that I hoped the Whitman shootings would be next. But I was not expecting the World Cup win to be included, and was delighted to see it in this episode. 

I like that Don had to correct the shooter's name and said out "Whitman".

Lane punching Pete is up there for my favourite moment this season, and I think narrowly pips Megan's singing "Zou Bisou Bisou". There was a lot about Pete's manliness (at least in the stereotypical sense) in this episode: can't fix the sink, can't get the girl, loses a fight to someone whose boxing stance is straight out of the Marquess of Queensbury. Even the dinner party showed him to be essentially neutered, the Manhattan boy moving to the burbs for his wife.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Fourth of July

Today I celebrate my second Fourth of July in Washington DC, and my fourth in the US, having spent one summer in Boston watching fireworks on the Esplanade and one summer in New York watching fireworks over the East River.

Since this is a day where Americans consider their founding, I will draw a link to Paul Revere's son-in-law. Joseph Balestier was the first American diplomat in Singapore, serving from 1837-52. The name has always resonated with me, for reasons entirely personal. My parents met as teachers in Balestier Mixed School in Singapore. My first apartment was in Balestier. But "Balestier" was always just the name of the district where I grew up, nothing more. It took a chance reading of a historical plaque during a walk around the district, in my late 20s, to realise that the name carried a link to diplomacy and the longstanding US-Singapore connection.

Today I celebrate with my American friends in a position that is the inverse of Balestier's: a Singaporean diplomat in America. And I hope to continue to be part of a long, long path of that link between Singapore and the United States.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Dancing in the Streets

Attended a wedding in New Jersey over the weekend, where the band (the very good Time Machine) played these various Motown and 70s funk songs to get the older folks out on the dance floor. Which suits me fine, since any glance at my vinyl collection will show that I love Motown and funk. But I was struck by a thought: I wonder what present-day songs wedding bands will play in 30 years to get soon-to-be-old-farts like myself out on the dance floor? [Secondary question: what will someone in his or her 60s look like dancing to Flo Rida?]

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