March 29, 2009
Well, you decide…personally, I think the laugh is pretty cute….after 10 jugs of tiger beer on the tap, of course (pun optional).
Well after this, I am sure – I am going get some charming death threats in my inbox again.
Did you miss out on this essay? Catch it here: Why Blogosphere needs to run TOC, Wayangparty and the Brotherhood Press out of town!
Nope, I didn’t fall off my bike and hit my head –Nope, you didn’t hear wrong – it rang out sweet and clear – “blogosphere needs to do us in along with TOC and Wayangparty!” I realize this whole idea may sound a trifle loopy – but that’s only because you don’t know about the evil power of one versus the goodness of the many.
I am not a fan of juggernaut big anything – matters little whether its mega churches, hypermarkets, bloated charities, super duper blogs or even flabby big firms. Where big features all it really does is level off the field of possibilities – reducing choice to perhaps a card board chicken case of – take it or leave it!
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out: how big simply spells trouble and it applies just the same to blogosphere.
Consider this: what happens if we only have one or two big blogs? What happens to the thousands of small voices?
Yes, we need to kill off the evil power of one – take a hammer even to the whole idea of investing everything in just a handful of players: it matters little whether it’s in the field of business, politics or products and services to perhaps girl friends or even whether we should just do with one chicken rice vendor in a food court – in short, the evil power of one is no good – it just doesn’t come around. The chances are if you’re going to rely on it; it will let you down big time!
If you’re a consumer, you’ve got to settle for less – if you’re speed dating, you’re probably end up being squashed to death by a 2 metric ton blind date and need I say, if you’re blog reader, you probably have to put up with my lousy spelling, grammar and comatose inducing post – that’s what happens in the absence of choice, diversity and the elemental right to say –“no thank you.”
You either have to lump it, or do without…..
In the land of the evil power of one, be it one newspaper, one chicken rice vendor or one super duper blog – what’s served up has to be consumed, not because its good or the best, rather the alternative is having to do without!
That’s why I strongly believe we (netizens) should consider migrating away from the whole idea of creating a single super duper assembly line of information i.e uni-polar (power of one internet) net where there may be ONLY two or three dominant players to perhaps creating an idea of a multi-polar net (the power of many) – where power is fragmented further into yet smaller pieces – the goal has to be to break ourselves up further to free up the voices of the multitudes.
The idea is to move away from inadvertently creating a monopoly like the Strait Times or Temasek - this should prompt us to consider: would it be such a good thing if ONLY one or two blogs monopolizes all the traffic in the net? In what way does this seed diversity and increase the range of possibilities? How does it nourish understanding and bring people closer together?
The short answer is it cannot.
If anything, all it does is narrows the aperture of possibilities to ONLY a few blogs and that simply endorses unmitigated abuse of power – this state of rot is reflected in the outlook of the MSM, where instead of dedicating themselves to the task of giving us the news without fear or favor – all the seem to do is forward the contrived reality of the govt of the day – is it such a wonder the only people who seem to defend the relevance of newspapers happen to be the very people who benefit most from it.
That incidentally is the real danger that confronts us all in the internet age – when all traffic flows only to one or two confluence points – what’s likely to happen is – these self styled czars – including the brotherhood press (as I don’t even trust myself) will eventually have the power to censor, delete, color and even filter your thoughts! – the end result: a contrived reality is forwarded that has absolutely nothing to do with reality – anyone who has ever had his comments censored in TOC will testify to this mind bending reality – if it’s done solely in the name of responsible blogging then that’s fine.
The problem most of the time it’s got nothing to do with responsibility blogging – and everything to do with – well you are just making me look bad, so I don’t think other people should read this!
The prognosis of the pervasive power of the evil power of one or just a few is chilling to the idea of a free internet.
Where power is diffused in the hands of many – there will be checks and balances – along with the whole idea of balance of power – it becomes impossible for one point of view to gain the center stage; instead the story is continually winnowed and whatever finally emerges has to be very close to the truth.
This incidentally is how the whole idea of democracy works – its premised on the idea of separation of powers – by deliberately fragmenting the power in the legislature, executive and judiciary. This way no one single entity is able to usurp power and exert undue influence.
My point is simply this; it serves no purpose to built another Byzantine version of Temasek online; if the imperative is to drive out the bad and seed the good then we should look at extending the linkages and networks even further, instead of reducing them to only a few isolated digital islands - the converse of not doing so is we run the real risk of regressing and even convalescing under the sheer weight of putting all our trust in ONLY the big to deliver the goods – and in the wake of the biggest recession the world has ever seen – that simply has to be a very stupid idea.
No it’s clear, we will have to drive the brotherhood press into extinction and hopefully take TOC and Wayangparty along with us – trust me, no one is indispensable – that’s the only thing that I’ve gathered from this whole economic meltdown – absolutely no one!
And don’t be surprised if at the end of it – you may even end up with a better blogoland!
Got to go for my swim now…please do feel free to correct for spelling and grammar –see I told you all, that’s what happens when we only have the evil power of one and a few.
It just doesn’t come around.
Ekunaba and Strangeland readers pls note: there will be a server upgrade – SLF 1 to 7 will shut down @ 1530 hr (local time) for a period of 8 hours – KOHO.
Find out why Singaporeans dont see the need to have babies: Why LKY should play SimCity to find out
Did you miss out on this one? Find out more about THE EVIL POWER OF ONE go on, blow your brains out!
March 29, 2009
Today is big cycling day – so we will just have to do a hello, bang-bang and good bye – coming to think, wasn’t that how our parents use to make babies? What’s happened recently? Why is LKY smacking his head!
Why is it so difficult to just get down to the whole business of making babies? It should be the most natural thing in the world. What’s the fuss all about? Why does it have to be something like the Da Vinci code?
My pet theory is; it may have something to do with the sworn enemies of the brotherhood – yes, those erudite spinsters who reside in that self styled monastery known as SPH (the Sisters of Perpetual Hesitation); who often write toe curling accounts on the seven habits of highly effective wife beaters – to why I rather sleep with my dog than a man – in their cloistered enclave when their mother superior Sumiko exclaims: “I’ve missed the boat.” Her underlings cheer on, “Well done, our aim must be improving.”
Leaving that all aside our baby blues remains a pithy summary of the sign of our times – it’s serious when you consider even Sengkang Sally these days seems to be hanging up her eggs.
In the early 80’s when the trend of forestalling the stork first surfaced it affected mainly the ranks of professional women – that was alright – besides all of them were batty and their abstinence probably saved most men from perpetual bitching.
But of late the trend of forestalling the stork seems to have reached pandemic levels and it’s even scissoring right through the length and breadth of our society! So out comes the same unsavory characters making a bee line in rogue’s gallery: high cost of living, not enough time, an uncertain future and the impossible demands of juggling jobs and kids etc.
Are they the only suspects? Could there be another reason why our birth rates are so low?
One clue that may explain why the baby figures are so shambolic may be found in the computer game called SimCity – I happen to love the game. For one it’s a great way to take a holiday from my inferiority complex; as SimCity is really like playing god (though I don’t think he eats pot noodle or has to live in a room where clothes go to die) – now the thing that I learnt most about SimCity is:
Build a lousy system and you are likely to get lousy results; there’s no mystery there, it’s cut and dried; where the cost and penalty calculation become screwy is when you build a perfect system that’s so good that it even has reserves to gather momentum and when you pull on the brakes nothing happens!
It’s a bit like the Titanic 30 seconds before it struck the iceberg – instead of you playing the game; the game plays you – the levers of power are connected to nothing!
That dystopian nightmarish landscape bears out only too clearly in the game SimCity – even the most benign and innocuous actions can be amplified and have far reaching implications – build a multi storey car park and the next thing you know you’ve created the mother of all traffic jams and that leads to probably an eight lane highway followed by deppreciation of real estate prices – next thing you know your neighborhood has turned into down town Baghdad; if you really want to understand why our baby birth rates is so low –here it is! - the answer believe it or not can be found in a computer game and just in case you think – I am kidding.
I am not, I worked it all out mathematically one evening on a napkin in McDonalds.
The whole idea of playing the extinction game isn’t really so different from one those environmental horror stories; we so often hear about; When someone thought it would just be a dainty idea to bring a pot of flowers from the old country to brighten up the porch and dress up their bonnet for Sunday church.
But what happens when that species of alien flower finds its way into the local ecology and proliferates only to overreach its territory very much like a super invader to wipe up the rest?
The analogy isn’t so different from what really accounts for our baby blues. The historical accounts are sketchy; but the story goes something like this; during the late 70’s a great social engineering experiment was launched; the ‘2 is enough and 3 is company’ population control program.
It made perfect sense then to mitigate the high birth rates and leveraging on the apparatus of assimilation to broadcast the message it worked admirably, the problem was everyone from the policymakers to the social scientist who conceived this idea became so fixated on the drive train and breaking the land speed record; none of them bothered with the emergency brakes. In short, they forgot about the reverse gear – fast forward today; when we talk about our lamentable birth rates, it’s nothing more than a social Chernobyl experiment gone awry.
Yes, some one fucked up. And they fucked it up big time.
The lessons here are sobering – never ever mess around with something you don’t completely understand – that’s the problem when government decides to play a round of I am-God-almighty.
My point is simply this; it may have made pragmatic sense once upon a time to muck around with the lives of people, but even with the benefit of the best of intentions; the cost of doing so may simply be too horrendously high to contemplate in the long term; fact remains where the equation applies to people; the whole calculation may not even hold true as what we are dealing with here isn’t nuts and bolts – it’s not really a quantitative method as it remains a qualitative process; its more an art than a science; because you dealing with people and people don’t always behave rationally.
Yes, small things can have big consequences. They can even come back and bite you like a multi headed hydra. Worst of all, some of the mistakes we make can’t be reversed – once they go into the mind; they just stay there forever.
It would be good; if government just kept that in the back of their minds when they next decide to muck around with the internet.
Don’t say, I didn’t tell you; it’s doesn’t pay to play God.
Pls do correct for grammar along with spelling.
Got to go cycling now.
The Brotherhood Press 2009
Hey did you miss out on this BP article? The Incredible Koreans
March 27, 2009
As Singapore prepares to celebrate 50 years of “good governance” – it may be a good idea to just spend sometime asking ourselves whether Kishore is justified to adopt a “we have arrived” tone?
But before diving there – let’s just consider what is good governance? And is it really the magic bullet that can slay the bad and the seed the good in one go? Well, first of all you need to realize that good governance – has absolutely nothing to do with it’s dictionary meaning – it’s abit like dial a girl - it’s 10% effort and 90% imagination – so it’s a bag term that really defies pin point definition – I don’t doubt some people can rip out a bullet point list and tell you what it is – the problem is like all abstractions, it inspires the same problem with what’s often striven so hard for – it’s fails to pin down the nub.
If had to plumb for a definition of good governance it would be simply this – the need to establish accountability within government systems to reduce the abuse of power. Through – rule of law and not rule by law and.
The distinction is subtle and fine – so work in through your head, take your time, as the rest of this essay will not make sense – if it’s not crystal.
When the idea of good governance is applied judiciously – it works! For example if you look at the US system although it is radically divided over issues of how best to pursue the best end or means – none of them, no matter how fractious threatens the stability and legitimacy of the system – Americans may vilify one another as bigoted or morally depraved, but they know they will not be put up against a wall if their party loses a election or run out of the country on trumped up charges. Result: good governance shows that the cohesion of American society is stronger than its divisions – good wins over bad.
The problem with good governance as an idea, concept or even school of thought is when its given perfunctory treatment – that’s to say form takes precedence over function – where people aren’t so sure, if they cross the line, maybe they will get kicked out or bankrupted or have some part of their privacy revealed to their greater detriment – when that happens; good governance as an idea becomes not only a means to express contempt for the rule of law; but it also degenerates into a farce.
Simple – good governance can really cut both ways – and this dichotomy bears out only too clearly when we peruse through the history of good governance; don’t be surprised, if instead of seeding the good, it even kills it dead and instead rubber stamps a whole lot of undesirable practices.
Don’t believe me, then consider this: why did the US invade Iraq? Good governance. Why is Najib Abdullah clamping down on the opposition just up North? Good governance. Why did China block Youtube? Good governance. Why did the Thai elites kick out Thaksin and declare martial law? Yes, you guessed it.
Yes, as we can see the appellation of good governance can sometimes be closer to the mark of the devil – closer even to the whole idea of perdition than salvation, if you really cared to drill deeper as our internet liaison officer Singaporedaddy put it so aptly in this entry: Inherent structural weaknesses in the PAP system of governance is sowing the seeds of Singapore’s failure (Part 1)
“Singaporedaddy on Fri, 27th Mar 2009 2:13 pm
Good governance is really a double edged sword – the problem with good governance is its not always good all the time and all too often, it can be used to condone less than desirable practices and policies. This unfortunately is one area Kishore did not see the wisdom to talk about in great length – all he really does is say, we have good governance and off he goes like a train (presumably straight down a cliff)
So let us all be clear; good governance is a double edged sword – it can cut both ways; can even be used to sanction genocide and ethnic cleansing along with building a few death camps.
The U.S. for example regularly uses the idea of good governance to impose their will and designs on other countries – why did Bush invade Iraq? Good governance – at times they use the UN – sometimes they use the IMF, including the fund’s policy on good governance, as a way of furthering narrowly conceived U.S. foreign policy interests.
So I think it pays to read up further on this whole idea of good governance. Things are not so simple; you just dont say you have good governance and everyone believes you and off you go – life is not so simple.
And that pretty much sums up the dissonance that accompanies the whole idea of the principle of good governance – the problem boils down to one word – it’s too broadly endorsed, and all too often it bestows the power to determine what is “good,” along with probably the whole idea of what’s “governable” to ONLY a select few – and the idea has to remain problematic. As it’s a darn good way to legitimize everything from power grabs, invasions to perhaps the dubious role of insisting that you should raise your hands up even to go for urination breaks.
And this brings into sharp focus the disconnect – new demands are emerging against the backdrop of the whole idea of what is good governance in internet age.
Unfortunately, when we talk about good governance alongside the internet – it’s a bit like putting a horse drawn carriage in an eight lane expressway – government has been slow and bovine to capitalize on this new reality – they haven’t really articulated the set pieces which makes up the whole idea of good governance to reflect the reality of this new age – they still have their old hats rivetted on.
And this raises some disturbing questions – like how can government even begin to reap the benefits of a network approach to good governance when they don’t even see the wisdom of engaging citizens and civil society organisations in shaping and implementing public policy?
Where does the idea citizens as partners feature against this new definition of the term good governance?
The idea wouldn’t be so disconcerting – if you didn’t know in some countries, such as Scandinavia, Finland, France and Japan, governments have already set the e-ball in motion in earnest – they’re required to consult with citizens to assess the impact of new policies. Here the idea of good governance goes beyond just informing in advance; they’re leveraging on the notion: if governments want people to invest their time in consultation, they must account for the use of that input in policymaking and explain their decisions – its not enough to ape the form without the content.
How does that compare with our current system? Is there any room for improvement? Could the revision to the films act and the whole idea of appointing AIMs have been better planned to include more people – was the opportunity to strengthen the relationship between a government and its citizens squandered or reaped meaningfully?
Why do so many people continue to criticize the government for being remote from the people? Not listening enough and not seeking participation? Aping the form and going through the motions instead of genuinely recruiting the interest of those who seem more interested in tuning out to officialdom?
These are of course hard hitting questions that all have the effect of throwing cold water on the whole idea of celebrating 50 years of good governance – I think, I’ve give it a miss and go cycling instead – the road it seems goes right on and on and we are definitely not there yet.
Are you a new reader of the Brotherhood Press? Check out our brand new portal at http://wayangparty.com/ / as for Ekunaba and strangelanders readers – remember it CTRL -ALT to take you there with our new moving platform feature.
Can Singapore Fail? Well let’s turn the question on its head and repose it this way: hasn’t Singapore already failed?
I don’t know; and though I did attempt to delve into the minutiae of Kishore’s “Can Singapore fail? I can’t say I gleaned any valuable insights – to be honest, it left me quite perplex. Now don’t get me wrong – I appreciated his candor like his enthusiastic endorsement of how we should all pick up tissue paper and plumb for dosai instead of English breakfast – only something seems to be sorely missing from this whole valecditory narrative.
Fact: Singapore has failed! In my humble opinion at least.
This hardly requires any elaboration; you could just as well draw on a host of motifs ranging from whether the 1st division team really delivered the goods to the whole idea of how Temasek and GIC decided to plumb for banks when the clever money decided to go somewhere else – in my mind, there’s no shortage of examples testifying to the fact; Singapore has failed in every conceivable way imaginable.
Why have we failed isn’t the main phalanx of this essay – I will probably have to write about it another time (as time is short and I am typing this on the train) – only let us all agree on the start line: we have failed – the reasons are multi factorial; could well be our fixation of the scholar system and the whole idea of leaving it all to the cult of infallibility – the very idea that only a select few can deliver the good life – or maybe it has something to do with our corseted view of how we usually define personal and organizational success; which sets us apart from countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia – where the effective power that drives the economy isn’t really the elite or technocrats; but rather the armies small of entrepreneurs – this came to me quite by chance when I found myself sitting next to kid on a business trip recently. I asked him, who do you most want to be when you grow up? – he just answered nonchalantly: “Li Khan Shin of course…that’s a dumb question.” Ask the same question in Singapore and you realize why the problem with our age has nothing to do a wider universe of how success can be attained; but rather the answer lies somewhere in the narrowed down version of what I term the tried and tested yellow brick road to success; where most people have in effect bought into the myth the only way to get the good life is to land yourself a scholarship instead of striking out on your own.
That in a nutshell sums up our lot – we are really the victims of our own scripting; by astudiously nurturing the myth that the good life can only be purchased by keeping to the apparent safety of the yellow brick road; most of us by default have inadvertently leveled off the field of possibilities to only perhaps a few ways to “succeed” in life.
Contrast that if you may with the American dream – where everyone and anyone can really strive for the idea of rugged individualism in a whole variety of ways which I can only describe as untraditional, unconventional and exciting – tell me how far would either Bill Gates or Steve Jobs get in Singapore?
I rest my case.
It may sound like a flippant question but its jugular when what’s really on the table is the idea of creating a new generation of trendsetters and not followers along with perhaps the whole idea of craving out competitive advantage, by all accounts – it has to be said, the American model provokes discussions on whether we have been too scripted by keeping to the idea of form while throwing out the valuable function. For all we know redemption on a national scale lies in the latter?
Its even conceivable part of that whole idea of being straight jacket requires us to ask whether the custodians of power have been “preaching” too much, which is quite different from teaching and mentoring. Ultimately, what really needs to be discussed isn’t the valedictory idea of whether Singapore can fail? But rather can we even come to terms with the idea we may have perhaps already failed?
The question acquires a renewed sense of urgency when you consider how so often failure is often sidelined, white washed and even given the mind bending treatment to suggest everything is still humming along happily as planned – no doubt this is done with lashings of no regrets or deflecting the whole idea of blame by suggesting Singapore is really too small to tack its destiny in the broader world of globalization. Or even leveraging on the whole idea of good governance by trumping it as the only thing that really matters in the greater scheme of things – but nonetheless, it underscores our morbid fear of confronting failure head on – and that surely must be the greatest consternation to thinking folk as:
In business, like in statecraft – failure is the teacher – and admission of failure remains the key. My feel is the real challenge - has absolutely nothing to do with juxtaposing the minstrel question: can Singapore fail? But rather can we really afford NOT to analyze what went wrong so that we don’t make the same mistakes again. Can we really afford to elide wholesale the whole idea of how we have miscalculated the resilience and durability of the free market enterprise?
I’m not sure how this could be done if even in the face of incontrovertible evidence that suggest we should press the pause button and relook at many of our time honored assumptions – the prevailing mood is still on of – business as usual – or we did the very best we could under a given set of conditions and there is no scope further scope for improve – we are the best in the world – the masters of the universe – my point is simply this: its hard, if not impossible to imagine a group of people who still cling stoically to the departmental mindset sitting around a table discussing a failed policy, strategy or investment and reaching conclusions that don’t have negative impacts on certain members – in short, the opportunity to learn, improve and set a new course is squandered.
The real lesson here could well be not whether Singapore can fail as Kishore suggested? But rather; its less desirable twin that so often hides behind all great failures – can we really afford to admit that we have not already failed? And this should prompt us to consider whether perhaps the only real failure is failing to learn from failure it’self? – and there lies the shattered dream and the firmament of all our hopes in the sign of our times.
I have to step off the train now; its my stop – if only coming to terms with failure could really be that simple.
If only…..yes, it’s better if we contend ourselves with the sobriquet question: can Singapore fail?
Have you missed out on this essay? Will PAP end up like Basket Case UMNO? auto generated 098124
VIEWER DISCRETION IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
I am not a Buddhist; but I am a humanitarian (not a very good one either); that’s to say; I believe people deserve to be accorded certain basic rights –they shouldn’t have to deal with tyrants who will just kick the shit out of them just because they cant get it up on a weekend with the missus – do you understand?
Now you understand why I don’t believe China is a good role model. Now you understand why when really dumb politicians say stupid things like:
“We’re not worried because it’s the governing party and Singapore-China relations are so close. We don’t talk about political philosophy.’
I get very concerned. it worries me as I am sure, it causes many thinking folk pain.
But what is the greatest sin that can befall a man? If the truth be known the greatest sin is when something happens before our very eyes; we choose not to see it; because it’s expedient for us to ignore it – the reasons are not important; it could be to get ahead in life or maybe to make that promotional cut; but whatever it is; one thing is very clear, the decisions we all make come with a definitive price – some of them in my opinion are simply too high to bear – it’s not worth it - and it demonstrates only too clearly integrity is never ever something we just speak about – yes, there are other considerations; there always is; you can even say there will never be an end to those considerations.
But that’s really what it takes to be a person with integrity – honest folk do not always find themselves in agreement with every enumerated beliefs held by the group which they belong too – if I dont take what I read or what I am told or what I see and weigh it against my own conscience – then of what value am I to the whole idea that makes up the concept of integrity – I suspect its something you need to serious think about Ah Teo.
As I said, China is a lousy role model – and as far as we are concerned, we are not going to go down that road – no, we are not doing that anymore.
Perhaps if you really bothered to discuss the philosophy of communism; then even you would have realize the error of your ways – one day, I hope you will see the wisdom – let us hope when that day comes, we don’t need to stand on the cusps of an age called, darkness like the poor Tibetans.
Do enjoy the video – it’s only a few day old – it’s straight out from the oven; the hottest place called hell.
This post should be read in conjuction with this:
Art of Engineering Consent in China – Why China is a lousy role model.
What do I think about the recent proposals of liberalizing online political films? Are the amendments to the Films Act substantive or is it just cosmetics? Did AIMs do a good job of bridging netizens and the goverment to create common ground and understanding?
To be very honest; I think all this is a wasteful diffusion of energy – if I had to sum up the whole deal in one sentence, it will be this:
“What has been given; would have been taken away by technology anyway” -
In other words, its a bit like some con man selling you a lease to breathe all the air on this planet – it ONLY makes sense, if what’s striven for has real value – the problem is, I don’t think it has any real intrinsic value – so I really don’t want to waste time going down that road – let’s move on.
This clip I have posted is a long one – but trust me it’s worth bearing out, if you’re really interested in the subject of looking for a better way to seed the good and drive out the bad from our internet. You could just as well apply it to the business of managing yourself and others or even decide to retrofit some stuff to make it work for girlfren 101 management as well.
What’s my point? You don’t need to be Phd (permanent head damage) to understand why diplomacy is so important when it comes to grappling with something as vexing as the internet – usually, when we talk about positive change; it’s basically the same motiff of one man talking and the crowd listening - its a one way street – one that even amplifies the us against them divide – as it’s a top down process – that’s one big reason why I dont believe community moderation under ANY configuration will ever take off – not as a concept – or even a working proposal – it suffers from too many affectations that it inspires i.e it’s premised on the whole idea of preaching from the pulpit - in many of my discussions with stakeholders in the net, especially with the gaming community; one thing remains patently clear - any proposal that TALKS DOWN is doomed to failure (please see the clip and find out why) - what’s seriously required if we are really sincere about building a better internet for ourselves and our children is a Nixon in China moment – we need to relook at many of our working assumptions – like how are we getting on top of this problem? What are the things holding us back? Along with perhaps getting a handle on bag issues like credibility, online anonymity and folk who are bent on a spot of mayhem.
My feel is for too long, the same traditional set pieces feature in the debate often with less than desirable results – all too often, the same concerns are raised; the same issues are thrown out and the same solutions come into play – result: is it such a wonder we seem to going around the same merry go round?
To me this has to be a fom of madness – insanity even – someone just needs to shift gears – and move out from this vicious cycle – as there’s something fundamentally wrong with the whole equation – what’s beginning to emerge for me at least; is a need for a paradigm shift - FIRST respecting the rights (real or imagined) of the blogging community needs to occupy a position of primacy in the whole discission i.e autonomy and fundamental freedoms – whether they are right or not is not the issue; that has to be the start line that we need to work on – they must first be put on the table and not with slippers and umbrellas some where near the front door.
I don’t believe standing on a platform and proclaiming that online anonymity is an illusion serves that greater imperative – it may well be the truth; but how well does that go down with the internet community? Allow me to paraphrase, lets say: a diplomat went around the UN and told everyone that Africans are a bunch of degenerates who don’t know how to manage money and opportunites - how successful do you think he will be in influencing others?
That simply underscores the overwhelming importance of diplomacy - that’s really the whole plank of my essay – this is not on snap shot on what should we build? As it is a take on, how we should build? And the real goal is positioning oneself to influence others - this requires a deeper understanding and respect for the rights to privacy and respect for the needs of the more vulnerable groups of society who may still feel the need to keep anonymous – their motivations are irrelevant here – what’s important is we keep to the ideal and principle.
The social stability needed for productive growth is nurtured by conditions in which people can readily express their will in our internet. For this, the ideal of recruiting the diverse claims of netizens are essential. Promoting such institutions means promoting the empowerment of those who we may not even agree with or see eye to eye - my feel is this diplomacy forum offers both policy makers and netizens alike an opportunity to seek out common ground - on the table are a host of subjects that most of us can readily grab and run with – deep listening skills, image, comportment and congruence are just a few to mention. You really need to bear out the length of this forum for yourself to seek out those gems – as for me, I have gone through it at least then times!
So if you happen to be a school teacher, homemaker, manager, policeman, minister or even a really dumber than dumb person like myself – this should go down like silk without frying your brains.
In a nutshell the whole logic of using diplomacy to make our internet a better place turns on the idea of leveraging on conversations vis-a-vis diplomacy as a means of bringing about change rather than resorting to stick and whips strategies – like community moderation.
As many of you may already know I am not a very big fan of community moderation – infact, I think that’s a pariah dog idea – only because I believe for anything to really work on the internet - it first needs to respect netizens rights to be hear along with perhaps paying homage to their sense of scale and how most of them see the world – you don’t need to be very clever to figure out – one reason why the government seems to going around in big and small circles, is because they haven’t figure out this one simple but very important rule of e-engagemnt.
The shift bears out only too clearly these days when we see how the world is trying to heal itself from nearly a decade of corrosive Bushims that has really fractured, dividing and sharpened enmity in people right across the globe; squeezing out, what I call the happy ground – and leaving very little in the way of common ground.
Its really a case of you are with me or you are against me; you are credible or you are incredible – my gut feel tells me, it doesn’t have to be like that at all.
Is it such a wonder; a new conviction is increasingly being fostered and nurtured by a new creed of statesmen, among nations large and small, to regain the great objectives of building a better world through diplomacy - here the shift is subtle, but nonetheless fundamental and instead of maintaining international peace and security at the cost of having to tolerate human rights abuses e.g Guantanamo prison - these statesmen are increasingly speaking the language of the “ethical” compact – where people themselves are empowered to do the right thing - it matters little whether it’s the idea corporate honcho’s having to give up their bonuses because their shareholders think they dont deserve it – or how might and firepower alone can never be seen as a substitute for diplomacy which increasingly gives equal rights to smaller nations even when they decide to face off against bigger adversaries - what we are increasing witnessing here is a shift in power from those who used to control and monopolize it as a means to an end to a general loosening to empower those who were once powerless - to me the idea of using diplomacy as a way to crave a better internet is far wiser than resorting to cattle prodding community moderation – as the real question can never turn on whether the internet should or must be regulate? – as it remains – can we really afford to do just that (play police and thief); if what we really desire is a better internet?
My views on this subject remain very firm; ANY system that proposes a top down approach is bound to fail in this age - and in this sense diplomacy offers us a new standard of how this great opportunity to change can come about – my gut feel tells me – this is one very intelligent way to make progress – it should never be squandered.
Do bear it out, if you have the time - one way of swallowing this down is not to do it whole – how do you eat an elephant? Cut it up into little bits- what I do is download it all into my ipod and listen to bits of it when I drive to work - its a real joy to listen and learn from the real elites – click on the change.
March 23, 2009
This has to be a quick one since I am trying to polish off my sandwich double quick and type this out at the same time in my shrunken keyboard – so lets dive in straight into the deep end. Tell me; why did Teo Ser Luck go to China? – to be honest with you; I’ve never heard of him before till I read this excellent article in TheOnlineCitizen recently – 16 March 2009 – The PAP’s fascination with communists – and who is Ah Teo, he happens to be the Chairman of the People’s Action Party (PAP)’s youth wing – the Young PAP (YP) and very recently he led a five-member delegation to Beijing. (See here.)
Now let me just get one thing straight from the onset; I have nothing against China; in fact, I think there’s a whole lot we can learn from them; like how to control our rat population (by cooking them into tasty delicacies like curry puff)– apart from that I don’t see anything in China that’s worth emulating, copying or transplanting; not unless you consider their lackdaisal human rights record as something that’s worth replicating – so naturally, you can understand why when Ah Teo decides to pack his bags and head East like Sun Wukong – some of us got pretty nervous; and just when you think Ah Teo could have perhaps provided some clarification, when a journalist asked him whether he was worried about YP associating with a Communist organisation, he replied:
‘We’re not worried because it’s the governing party and Singapore-China relations are so close. We don’t talk about political philosophy.’
Now this is the part where we all find ourselves suddenly transported to Panadol land; what does he really mean? We are “close,” but we “don’t talk about political philosophy.” Now don’t get me wrong, but this is a bit like saying you’re married to someone; but all you do is play xbox all day long – what about checking out her other box? (get my drift, wink)
You know what? I’ve cut to the chase: I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT AH TEO IS SAYING HERE! And I suspect he doesn’t have any idea either why he’s decided to lead a delegation to China; I am serious.
I even trawled around the internet to find out what was his objective was to go to China; even went down the Singapore ghost stories site P-65 where those shrunken heads are hanging out – absolutely nothing on why Ah Teo has decided to go off to China.
And neither does the author of this article: The PAP’s fascination with communists. Granted Ravi Philemon has a handful of theories but even he doesn’t really know either; maybe we should all just remain open minded about all this – the problem is our brains may threaten to spill out – and why do I find this so disconcerting; because: I DON’T BELIEVE CHINA IS A GOOD ROLE MODEL.
Might as well go and build an organization using the 7 habits of highly effective dodo birds – and let me tell you why just to add to Ravi’s list.
Firstly, do I deny that China’s meteoric rise has garnered its share of admirers (such as perhaps Ah Teo and his bosses?) – Nope, but I am also mindful of that it has its fair share of valid detractors and I am NOT only talking about human rights concerns here only, that’s maybe 10% of the gripe. As I am sure, some people may say, well it always comes down to that doesn’t it.
My concern relates directly to hard nosed business of maladministration aka lousy management – specifically bad governance that remains the unwritten narrative of the China story – all too often when China admirers speak of her stellar success, they wax lyrical and focus ONLY on the positive side of China’s economy; as a result the underlying societal ills and the exorbitant human and spiritual cost of how they have managed to secure their economic primacy is frequently never discussed.
We are not only talking here about cloudy abstractions like human rights but jugular how-do-you-run-your-country-into-the ground issues like severe environmental degradation and public infrastructure that’s so riven with endemic corruption and favoritism that it seriously militates against the whole idea of holding out China as a role model – unless you want to commit hara-kiri on a national scale of course.
At the root of the concern is NOT whether China’s GDP this year will outstrip the US or the EU; or even whether it will continue to break records in being able to balance it deficits payments – all this is given – RATHER at what cost does all this come about? To paraphrase at what price are these goodies purchased? And are these attributes really worth emulating and replicating in Singapore.
To say that something can be learnt from the oldest civilization in the world that once discovered gunpowder, paper and magnetic North – goes witht the whole territory of exploratory missions – only I don’t know whether Ah Teo sat down and did a lightning calculation; as I said, he never ever shared with any of us what his agenda in China was – I mean if you say; you’re there to learn; then what thoughtware are you really loading in your brain? Is it the good type that produces good while edifying human beings or is it the bad variety; where everything is reduced into faceless numbers and percentiles which come at the greater detriment of the mind, body and spirit?
My point is its very easy to be enamored by China’s seemingly successful track record – very much in the same way, most of us were blinded by the Lehman’s, Madoff’s and Satyam’s of the corporate world – till of course the dream spluttered ran out of petrol, keeled over a died – I am not saying for one moment China’s economic growth is going to fizzle out and they’re going to turn into a financial version of a giant and lumbering AIG and the sum of all our fears; ONLY when we speak about China as a success story; it pays dividends to be circumspect and drill deeper.
There remains serious concerns about the whole fairytale narrative of the China story -For one I don’t see how China or for that matter any country can continue it economic growth in perpetuity given the persistent flaws in its economic institutions and structure that are the result of impromptu, misguided and self serving government policies. Neither do I see how its possible for the Communist Chinese hegemony to continue it vicious policy of pursuing economic and industrial primacy whilst neglecting the fundamental aspects of society’s welfare – and this one observation that Ah Teo should consider very carefully – even the western educated Chinese no longer perceive the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) as a credible way to move forward any longer – there’s evidence of growing disenchantment, especially within the educated middle classes who have been begun to tune off state TV, state newspapers and even state radio and ridding themselves of everything that isn’t state inspired – the moribund communist system no longer has the cultural authority it once had over the collective consciousness – if that were really true; then why is there even a need to build a virtual fire wall that equals the length of the Great Wall of China?
All this suggest far from being a success story; China is in effect one giant choreograph wayang kulit of success – step back stage and don’t be surprise if you discover the same social, economic and political risk factors swept underneath the carpet— such as heavily subsidized soviet styled industries, growing inequality, trans migration, poor and inefficient use of labor—they remain, they fester and there lies the ticking time bombs.
If the truth be known; the communist party remains an old relic of the past and it neither has the imagination or verve to reinvent itself; hence it relies solely on economic growth to legitimize and mythologize it’s raison detre – it’s the equivalent of cheap cigarettes and circuses to keep the masses in a happy stupor.
By focusing exclusively on short-term monetary growth instead of long-term human sustainability, such as health care, education, creation of job opportunities and environmental protection – all this has been neglected for the cult of instant gratification.
The end result is a moth eaten state built on weak kneed political, economic and societal foundations with a potentially unhappy and restless people.
What we may be seeing right now when we look at awe and wonderment at China may well be the seemingly harmless and benign great Chinese firecracker, somewhere beneath all the razzmatazz, polish and sheen lies the disaster of the mellinium waiting to happen and all it takes is for someone to light the fuse.
All that glitters; is not gold.
Perhaps Ah Teo should reconsider once again – I stand corrected as always; but that’s only because he never once bothered to share with anyone his the full reason for his fabled journey to the East.
OK twenty minutes is all you are worth Ah Teo and I am not even going to bother with the spell check or grammar.
Remember take this constructively; I pay my taxes, so I have a right to ask a question that may affect me and my friends, as you never ever bothered to explain even so much as once – why you decided to go to China; and bear in mind there is much more where that came from and it just took me 14 minutes to bag you – btw always remember, the internet is a place full of lies and we dont have any credibility.
We highly recommend that this essay should be read in conjunction with this: http://wayangparty.com/?p=6756
PS: Dear readers: do take the trouble to check out the thread of The PAP’s fascination with communists ; somewhere along the line you can see Singaporedaddy, our friendly internet liaison officer of the brotherhood slugging it out with what we believe is a (My feel is if this is the quality of personnel they have assigned here, then they dont even need enemies) cyber internet counterinsurgent (who goes by the name of smallvices or voices – not sure) – read it, its hilarious! Happy hunting – Darkness 2009
March 20, 2009
It goes without saying; there are elites and there are elites – but you do you really know who are the real elites? Well think no further; they just happen to be the same people who make our home grown scholars look like a bunch of intellectual paraplegics – who am I talking about…………….. the Jews of course.
Yes, the Jews are the real elites; think I am kidding? Then how do you explain this: Murray report Well there is a lot of stuff there but chief among them is the observation that more than 30 percent of the Nobel Prize winners in the fields of literature, chemistry, physics, zoology and medicine since the second half of the 20th-century have been Jews. This is huge considering Jews representing only two-tenths of one percent of the world population!
So tell me what do the Jews really have that our scholar don’t have? What’s really behind their secret recipe for success?
Mmmmh, that’s a tough nut to crack isn’t it? After all don’t we have a scholarship program? Doesn’t our government regularly cull the crème de la crème and put them through the paces to produce “winners?” Don’t we even have a “nurture nature” program where we use the metaphor of “guppies” and “whales” to hopefully produce really smart people?
Pray tell then, why aren’t our scholars smarter than the Jews? Why cant they seem to get it together.
Now you may think this is some flippant question since I writing this now in the pantry of my office while munching on my curry puff – think again – millions are spent every year on the scholarship run the mill – many of these scholars after finishing their academic tenure are integrated into the various institutions with the hope of ensuring peak individual and organizational performance. So the scholarship program even affects those who aren’t directly scholars. We’re after all paying for it; so we deserve to know.
So one more time please why are the Jews so darn smart?
Maybe they have some sort of natural advantage that our scholars don’t have – maybe a big fat clue lies in the old country where those Jews came from. When God was still prancing around earth turn folk into mounts of salt, wasting whole communities with lighting rods and mega floods? Maybe the Jews have a “divine advantage.” I mean how the hell, do you expect our scholars to compete against God! (no wonder people keep on saying the brotherhood is unreasonable!) Don’t believe me? Even the Bible affirms this:
“Surely this is a wise an understanding race of people…” (Deu 4.6).
There you go directly from the big man upstairs. So it’s a done deal, let’s all pack our bags and go back home –we just got the shorter end of the stick and like the Americans say the rest is history.
But hold on a second. I hear someone hollering, “The Jews are smarter than our scholars because of their glorious heritage?” Mmmmh sounds credible, especially when you consider in down town Jerusalem, anything less than 2,000 years is still considered modern.
I mean you can’t even sit, stand or lean on anything in the state of Israel without some pesky Rabbi poking you with his walking stick and reminding you, “hey, hey, careful that’s where Jesus sat! Hey, careful there! That’s where John the Baptist lost his head etc.” No doubt about it those Jews definitely have a long and rich heritage that harks back to a glorious past, maybe there’s some truth to it all. There must be something in their heritage that gives them all a competitive advantage. You can hardly blame our scholars. What do we have to compare with the glorious Jewish heritage? OK, we have one confused Merlion that was recently struck by lightning along with a few trinkets of the past, hardly the stuff that makes the hair at the back of ones head stand up when we summon the word – heritage.
But hold on a second that’s the distant history of the Jews – it doesn’t really count does it? I mean if we really look at the recent history of Jews, weren’t everyone either trying to kill, drown or maim them in the dark ages? Weren’t they like dying off so fast, even Henry IV was forced to pass a charter, circa 1090, which banned Jew bashing: “If anyone shall wound a Jew, he shall pay one pound of gold ….his eyes will be put out and his right hand cut off.” I mean if people are trying to set you on fire or strangle you to death half the time what kind of competitive advantage can it really produce? And in the 20th century, didn’t this chap who threw a party in Munich, circa 1933 called the Nazi Party even pass the Nuremberg Act to discriminate against them? – didn’t he pack 6 million Jews off? So what kind of heritage are we talking here unless you believe regularly breathing in poison gas or surviving on a diet of twigs and insects is some secret diet that produces really smart people!
What’s happening here! Can someone please tell me: why our scholars aren’t as smart as those darn Jews?
So the social evolution theory goes straight out of the window – what about genetics? Are the Jews genetically superior? Maybe our scholars can’t compete because our genetic pool just isn’t big enough? Do the Jews have a smart helix that allows them to carve a competitive advantage?
Not really as there’s absolutely no empirical proof suggesting Jews are genetically smarter!
To say that the Jews have a history of emphasizing scholarship is indeed true to even suggest that’s the reason why they are so smart is like saying the Sistine chapel is a Bible comic. I don’t doubt for one moment most children in Jewish households are comparatively more conscious of the importance of education but it still doesn’t go very far to answer why Jews are smarter than our scholars.
One reason according to S. Nuland, author of “How We Die” lies in the values and world view of Jews. For one unlike our scholars Jews don’t even expect to be treated fairly, let alone to be given such a thing as a level playing field to even suggest they have a privilege to state sponsored scholarship programs – it just doesn’t exist, not even in the state of Israel!
This “consciousness of disadvantage”, Nuland suggest promotes the whole idea of ‘portability” that’s why education is seen to be so important in the Jewish community (if you need to hightail what’s really important is in your head!) and probably evolved into the province of what we call today the Jewish academic aristocracy – it stands to reason, unlike our homegrown scholars who are often sold the idea of “stability and permanence.”
The Jewish worldview is nothing short of a reversal of the whole notion of ‘permanence’ and instead reinforces how ‘instability’ and ‘chaos’ will always feature as an indelible feature of work, life and play. So according to anthropologist. Jews develop nomadic survival traits – they stay in ghettos in the same way dessert folk walk in single file to hide their numbers – they travel light, make do with the barest of necessities and develop skills like how to shift their weight and walk slightly off centre when carrying heavy loads, that way, they can walk longer without suffering any kinetic loss. Even more efficient that modern military backpacks! You learn these things when people regularly hunt you down for no other reason because you are a Jew! People get smart when you marginalize them – they get real smart when you start to erase their history – they put it all in their heads! So they develop photographic memories – unlike our scholars who expect to return to a cushy job along with all the predictability associated with promotion. Jews are often schooled in the “impermanence” of life. Nothing is ever taken for granted, least of all life.
Jews know they can be expelled at the slightest provocation, hence they develop techniques, skills and tricks which our scholars never ever need to develop, because they are feted and chaperone around the system like crippled mandarins – stuff like how to cut 400 crystal designs which they keep in their head, never ever once having to write them down even today! Stuff like how to table a diamond with the cool headedness that comes from putting the cutting tool it and with a pray hit it with one stroke to either increase its value a thousand fold or reduce to nothingness – they learn to take risk, manage it even to even feel perfectly comfortable in an environment of constant change and uncertainty, unlike our scholars, who plan as if the world revolves only around them! Owing them all a living – is it such a wonder, there is not fight!
Twenty minutes is up – I’ve got to go back to my conference call now – but before I go maybe, I didn’t make myself very clear here Why Elites End Up Dying All The Time; maybe the message was garbled, so here it goes again, loud and clear – only losers kill themselves.
There you go, the truth and nothing but the truth.
Hey did you miss out on this? Check it out here: The world’s deadliest game: when bloggers and govt play hide and seek for the truth.
March 17, 2009
Why do some scholars take a bad turn? To paraphrase in direct terms: how did it fuck up? Does it have something to do with the venality of online games – I mean, it makes sense right! When you consider to get to the seventh level of war craft one has to vaporize at least ten thousands aliens and a few penguins – I am sure that’s bound to have a scouring effect on ones character.
Nope, I don’t buy into that straight line logic; anymore than I believe all women drivers are bad motorist because of late auto manufacturers seem to be provisioning cup holders.
Fact of the matter is; the reason why some scholars screw up isn’t so different from how many of us and even big juggernaut firms manage to egg it up – you’ve be surprise how remarkably democratic and class blind the laws of cocking up really is.
And it matter little whether you’re running a juggernaut fortune 500 firm or just trying to trying to chalk up the years to finish your miserable scholarship bond or even if you’re an average Joe like me, who is basically just trying his level best to get the best deal in life – the rules of success and failure apply just the same irrespective of class, color or creed.
So that’s the first myth out of the window; the low down is we all compete under one and the same sun.
Having said that do you notice the folk who usually take it the hardest are those who are really smart? If you don’t believe me just cast your mind back to your averagely miserable campus days; who were the ones who usually landed all the hot chicks? Was it Mr Ace-all-the-grades or the bad boy?
And just in case you think that’s another one of my crack brained theories; erase it from your mind; there’s even anecdotal evidence supporting the contention smarties have it rough and tough. Yes, according to Dr. Alex Benzer, a Cambridge and Harvard-educated hypnotherapist who had a piece in the Huffington Post last week called “Why The Smartest People Have The Toughest Time Dating.” There you go proof.
But why is that so? Well if you really want to understand why the dice is loaded against smarties; it just boils down to one theory; they aren’t that smart to begin with – that’s to say when we use the word “smart.” Its conceivable, we may be just applying a very narrow band of intelligence that bears little or no relations with the whole idea of using ones brain to carve out competitive advantage in life.
And what we should all consider is whether the whole idea of smart hasn’t been somehow scripted, packaged and sold to everyone of us since the day we are born – we are all told for instance – good grades = the good life. As a consequence most of us aspire to be scholars.
But what are we really producing?
Well if you consider that the word smart is synonymous with specialization – and specialization is just another word for focusing on one area of your life till it squeezes out everything in between and the middle to roughly the diameter of a pin head – then I don’t think that’s a very smart way to go through life; I am not saying everyone that gets good grades and manages to land a scholarship is narrow minded; but I don’t believe that’s necessarily the best way to build a better human being – besides there is more to life; then getting a string of A’s or making they the mythical tape line whenever one decides to take to sports.
My feel is there has to be a cost associated with being so focused in one area of interest that it excludes everything else.
And this bears out only too clearly when you speak to really smart people; they can tell you everything you want to know about lets say what happens if you throw a golf ball into a black hole; but the downside is when lets say they cornered in alley by a bunch of gay militant bikers bent on spot of free ass – they have absolutely no street wisdom how to talk or fight their way out of it – in short, they’re pretty lousy survivors.
Bear in mind; this is just my theory; based on my personal observations – smart people in my opinion have to be myopic people; they tend to get fixated on one point; they suffer from severe tunnel vision and it matters little whether its an object of interest in their research field or getting by in life; and if you really look through the life and times of smart people; they all have one thing in common; most of them don’t even make it past 40; they just seem to burn out and drop dead for some strange reason – again it matters little whether they are really smart composers; artist, scientist or even businessmen – it all reads like the curse of the Pharoah’s.
One reason why some of them seem to go down the dodo hall of fame is because being smart may not be the best way to get ahead in life; I mean if you look carefully at the animal kingdom – the most resilient species aren’t specialist like Koala bears who can only climb upside down and munch only on Eucalyptus leafs or Russian Sturgeons who only seem to be so manja (spoilt) they can only spawn when the temp hovers between the narrow band of 21.5 – 22 °C in the Caspian Sea.
Survivors are generalist par excellence; like rats and roaches; they can survive any where; in the case of roaches; the more you spray them; they just develop more immunity and come back twice as strong – all you’re really doing when you try to kill them is create the ultimate pest – my point is they are very versatile creatures – they don’t cling to fixed assumptions like the smart losers.
And one reason why the generalist wins is because he cannot afford to live in his make belief world of no regrets; generalist as the term implies have to always to pop up their heads like a periscope and take a sweep of the bigger picture. They learn to get by with plenty of duct tape, rubber band and super glue – since things never go their way most of the time; they just need to adapt, improvise and overcome and that could just as well be not having the right paper qualifications or like me graduating from a tin pot university that no one has ever heard of before – and in some cases they even get marginalized, discriminated and looked down on – but that doesn’t kill them off; it just makes them stronger; but elites can’t do that.
For one they’ve all bought into a shitty master plan where they’re told they’re infallible and the best in the world – and soon even the best of them get caught up in the gyre of mythologizing their existence, ratio and being – and when you buy into that shitty plan where failure is no longer an option – that’s simply trouble.
Because in real life shit happens whether you like it or not, airplanes drop from skies; your ipod doesnt synch and even your girlfriend may decide to open her legs for another man or show her bush to the whole world in the internet - that’s life man ; so you better get used to it.
The problem with elites is they cant roll with the punches and get up and fight again; that’s what happens when one becomes terminally fixated – things just have to work out their way, one way and our way; if it doesn’t they just pull the pin on the grenade and say bye bye.
In short elites dont take failure very well – they rather do themselves in then to admit that they have failed – it matters little whether what they once egged up happens to be running a business, relationships, career or the whole idea of being a man – THEY RATHER DIE THAN ADMIT FAILURE. In short, they no longer possess the ability to see the world in the right scale and perspective – that probably means their judgment has become so warped, its worthless.
You could just as well take this kernel of an idea and just superimpose on lets say the question of why big firms go bust; you could even use it to explain stuff – like why do firms fail? Sure you can say it’s poor execution – bad planning, poor design, sloppy handling or just plain lousy market intelligence – but at the end of the day, if you really boil it down to one sentence it just comes down to – having a lousy perspective.
Somewhere amid the medley of making money they got carried away with not 100 or even 10 or 5 ideas that got them into a hole – but usually, they got so fixated on only one idea – could well be putting all their chips on one market niche like banking; or maybe deciding to spend hundreds of millions, or even billions, of dollars to build a vehicle that can just run on fuel cells like the Segway.
In game theory; we call this the all or nothing game and it’s not so different from walking into a casino and putting all your chips on one number. The long and short of it; that’s no way to win unless you consider dying in the speed a light some way to get ahead in life.
It always pays to remember life is valuable only because it can be lived in so many ways; it’s so versatile – – makes far more sense to buy into an idea of a multi-tool Swiss knife that has everything from box cutters to a cork opener; may even be slightly clumsy as we all know Swiss knifes don’t seem to do any of the things they are supposed to do very well; may not even get you the first prize when it comes to a book shelve race - but that could just be what separates a real winner from the losers – the all rounder, that is.
Only losers kill themselves.
Brotherhood Press 2009
The real question is not whether blogging can change the world; but rather is it supposed too? To be perfectly honest with you – I dunno –
I don’t have a claim on internet history and I don’t think anyone has either; it’s a geography that’s simply to big to squeeze into one head. All I can really draw on is my own humble personal account of what blogging really is – I remember (violin plays in the background), it was the summer of 1999 when I first blogged and like many who had stumbled on the internet. I didn’t really have anything significant to say; yet I distinctly recalled that I desperately yearned for an online persona.
I realize this sounds terribly petulant; the idea of not having the faintest idea of why one should even project online except the merest wisp of a fancy to be part of a revolution that one doesn’t know anything about; but I guess, if I had to sum up all the feelings of the online revolution that once swept the world by storm it would have to be those clueless few minutes when I first started to write something like ‘hello’ or ‘is anybody there?’
It was obvious from even these baby beginnings that what I was dabbling with was revolutionary. No sooner had I discovered this sudden power to publish my thoughts, in no time my baby gugu mama postings began attracting a slew of brutish comments (this could probably explain why all your comments here will be permanently held in queue). They were more direct than anything that I had ever experienced before, more persnickety than any arm chair pontificator with a grudge to bear against the world, and more dangerous than the average psycho one is likely to come across in a lifetime.
None the less like many of my generation; I took to this new medium like fish to water and soon even develop a rhino hide to find the mythical line. At first my motivations can only be described as something closer to fuzzy pretense; I remember telling myself, it was healthy to nurture such a thing called an inner voice (that could explain why I wasn’t very hot with the girls; it gets a bit crowded with your imaginary inner voice friends and pets running around): hence the will to record indelibly, to set down even the merest thoughts into permanent words seem akin to the conviction I was somehow larger than the community, state and broader universe. Sounds like a great trip on magic mushrooms right?
In the years that followed much of the initial euphoria levelled out; the blog still remained the blog; it didn’t change the world; the world didn’t get smaller, it still took the same number of hours to reach London or Tokyo by plane; the internet was a superficial medium.
By superficial, I mean its allure relies on a kind of delusion or suspension of disbelief that blogging can change the world and will make it a better place; though I never got around to questioning how this change might actually come about; besides I was too busy validating my dysfunction self; for one I especially liked the way blogging made dyslexia respectable; as blogging surreptitiously rewards brevity and immediacy. And since I had roughly the attention span of a housefly – that just fitted me well down to a tee.
It was only somewhere around 2004, when I had written my sixth online novel. That I realized, instead of changing the world; the internet was actually some sort of giant Smithsonian institute; in this sudden reversal of logic; I realized blogging wasn’t supposed to change as much as preserve against change; that thing being threatened could well be the idea of statistical insignificant ‘me’ against the greater ‘we.’ A critical way of viewing the world outside the cloistered cosy insiderism of group think. Or even something as trivial as the right to ride my bicycle on the road without getting flattened into roti prata; reading back on many of my writings during that period; I realized the key to understanding a blog is to grasp that it’s a stab at the moment, a blot of ink and should never be equated with a publication. At best, an idiom of our times that allows millions of people to express themselves at their own speed, time and style – that could explain why any attempt to make a blog conform to any prescribed corsetted form or symmetry is just an act of futility – it cannot and will not – you cannot gut out the condition of human spontaniety that makes a blog, a blog.
But despite the seeming superficiality this doesn’t detract from its depth—greater depth than even what the traditional media could even be expected to capture in some cases. As not only does it capture the personalised version of the unvarnished truth, but it also provides writers and readers alike with an emotional black box to log how society once reacted, reasoned and dedicated itself to a path of beliefs, ethos and values to their objects of interest.
By this period somewhere in 2005. I had noticed, the world had also begun to change inexorably (I don’t get out much); from my room with a view; I didn’t like very much what I was seeing. I am not saying I am anti-globalisation fundamentalist. Or that we should undo the internet and hammer our keyboards into ploughshares and return back to the days of the cottage industry.
Only it would not be too far off to say. I saw globalization with a heavy dose of askance very much like some pernicious evil weed taking hold; something even akin to a super invader that had the capacity to overreach threatening to leach out everything that’s real, valuable and authentic.
It stands to reason globalization promotes the idea of one worldness; the greater ‘we’ at the expense of the individual ‘I.’ In the years that followed, I sought out the merest hint of this global decay and with each passing affirmation where I saw the world barreling mindlessly into the end times of the age when the ‘I’ gave ground to the faceless ‘we’– I reached a realization, blogging was hardly a matter of choice, it was a matter of necessity – we have to write; if we are to stand a chance of preserving that which we hold dear and worth handing over one day to our children.
Though somewhere in this great narrative to save the people and planet; I hadn’t got around to figuring out exactly what it was which was so important that needed preserving, besides maybe my Bavarian cuckoo clock and overpriced Italian racing bicycle; the act of blogging it seemed was always more important than the pesky philosophy; its hard to describe in precise terms the feeling of being assaulted, except to say deep down; some of in the mess of my confused self. I must have rued an age of mass consumerism and the mono culture brought forth by globalization and everything that came with it – to me it was a form of McDonalization that even threatened to reduce the field of possibilities to a cinder. Against that belief, one takes up arms against the homogeneity of mass culture. One doesn’t want to be swept away. And writing and managing a blog, I guess offers the illusion of ”choice” in a “choiceless” world; it’s a sanctuary against that scouring tide. A refuge even against the chastening passage of time.
I guess to know this feeling better, one needs to enter the messy mind of a blog writer as he struggles to express himself against how he sees his ever changing environment - When one writes time stops for the duration of the moment when a sentence needs to be wordsmithed, you’re acutely acute present to yourself; you step outside the unconscious forward rush of life. This is why the condemned are allowed the final cigarette, it offers release or rather the hope of it by gathering the loose threads that allows one the strength to walk through the door or cross that line. In a sense I saw it as the clearest testament against the omnipresent mechanization of mass culture.
And for a long time, I even nurtured the belief; the truth in this age can only remain the truth, providing one writes and another reads. I believed rightly or wrongly when serious writing and reading dwindles to near nothingness, it will probably mean that the thing we’re talking about when we use the word “identity” has reached a terminal end.
I guess when one sees writing in this sense; it ceases all together to be writing; and is instead closer to a form of samizdat; a mode of opposition thinking; that doesn’t necessary mean against state and authority, but rather it simply a reaction against the whole idea we may just be another faceless dot that connects to other dots – as Emerson said, “even a brick aspires to greatness,” eventually one learns to manipulate words and sentences in the way one takes pride in the god of the small even something as insignificant as tying your shoes laces or being able to make bubbles with your saliva acquires a monumental scale – one takes great pride in these small pleasures that the world hardly notices such as the art of adjusting lacing patterns to terrain – you tell yourself, those shoe manufacturers may know the foot of 99.99% of the rest of humanity, but your feet is different, you are an individual, you’re special, you’re not like the rest of those flat foots; no, for one you write, they don’t – so you develop a style of tying your laces which keeps the toe box loose and the ankle tight when climbing uphill (to prevent twisting) and on the descent you learn to reverse the pattern on the way down (to protect the Achilles tendon), using a double- twisted knot to separate the two parts of the lace – you tell yourself, few people know this trick, they don’t really know how important tying their shoe laces is, only you know it – and as you look out over the yonder, you tell yourself – I ready for the world and what it can throw as me – I can tie my shoelaces better anyone in this miserable planet.
I guess for anyone who has ever blogged before this graphic analogy which I have just shared is one that only they understand too well; it’s easy to get caught up in the gyre, to be even swept away by it. And there lies the real danger.
It was only after the euphoria of the recent general elections in Malaysia in 2008 – when blogging was touted as the new wonder weapon of change; that I seriously began to think for the very first time about this new experimental form of writing – I vacillated and grew restive and contemplative during this time; taking off even whole weeks and months from blogging; often lapsing between hope and trepidation; struggling often against the imperfection of the results which blogging produced, vexing even with the broader constancy which I asked myself in stark terms; is this how I would like to make the world a better place? Is this how good wins over bad?
I can’t say for certain that by this period I have totally at ease with the power of blogging; unlike many of my compatriots; I realized its terrible and awesome capacity for change; but my discomfort zone was precisely because I had seen first hand the before, during and after story of how the internet could be weaponized so easily; neither was I fully convinced that the changes it wrought would be for the betterment of people or planet; during this period; my mind meandered often questioning the wisdom of how this new power could be better harnessed.
Even today I don’t have any answers to many of my questions.
But despite my initial reservations about the quality of change that blogging brought to the Malaysia political landscape – I remained hopeful, that if used wisely and responsibly (not within the definition directed by officialdom, as I don’t believe they really know what they’re doing), blogging for lack of a better word remains our best hope to make a better world.
I say this with confidence. As when we look back at history and peruse through the unresolved dialogues of Plato right up to Karl Krauss, its not too difficult to trace out the lines where a skeptic once questioned the spirit of his age to make it a better place; or an enquiring mind found a way out of the finality to the established truth to shatter the yoke of the great lie; in the scheme of things it matters little whether its disproving the theory the earth is flat; or rubbishing something as polished as the whole idea the earth is the center of the known universe. The one undeniable ever lasting legacy of the human spirit is where there is a mind who is prepared to write and defend his treatise before the world; there is hope for good to triumph over evil; and the truth can hold its own against the lie. In this regard blogging offers this tremendous opportunity for thoughts to acquire speed to bring about this type of change.
And though in this age; when blogging as a way of thinking or life may still have to compete furtively with slashing aphorisms and machine gun burst of invectives from its detractors who see it as merely a wasteful indolent pastime – I am reminded providing there is someone who writes and another who continues to read; then there may still be hope yet. For it is only when we question with a skeptical and daring mind can we change minds, acquire new knowledge, shift paradigms and grow wiser —and so this boon or bane that the world calls blogging, far from being perdition may yet hold out the promise of salvation.
I wish you all happy blogging for 2009 and may you all find your line.
(This essay was first published in PBK, The Confederation, The Strangelands, C-MOS, Just Stuff & Ekunanba / By Darkness / Reflections / Socio / Based Partially on Codex: 9926439-2006 / Revised Partially from EP edition 9926440-2007 – The Brotherhood Press 2009)
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Is God angry with Singapore? Well it would seem so judging from the dumbstruck look of the Merlion as a few bangla’s proceed to drill lightning arrestors on his head – I really don’t know which is worse really getting struck by lightning or having to wear stainless steel horns; as all he really wants to do is to vomit water all day long – and recently, when I walked into a lift – an uncle was going on about the evil rule of 3’s – and guess what – it all made sense, three recent unnatural deaths and that was the day when it took me three attempts to pull up my zipper (maybe I should lay off economy beehon for a while) – all of them seemingly occurring at the same time involving bright and mobile scholars (shouldn’t they be working on a cure for cancer or something instead of experimenting on inventive ways to do themselves in?)
Is there a common link to all these strange happenings? Is it an omen; is the waters in Marina bay going to turn red; was the Singapore flyer trying to tell us all something when it stopped suddenly for no reason? Will there be a full eclipse of the sun and moon? And just when you think; the story couldn’t get more surreal; to cap it off we have added shock and awe of the recession.
Yes, it’s easy to believe God is pissed with us and I don’t think it has anything to do with my aftershave either; this is serious; maybe I should start taking flower baths; maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to give away my lucky T shirt after all.
But you know what mumbo jumbo theories have always been around since the beginning of time: even long before the age of the internet, man had shown an insatiable appetite for the bizarre and superfluous. In the middle ages, the legend of Prester John riveted European courtiers no end as charlatans recounted the legend of a mighty Christian king who supposedly ruled a twelfth-century Asian realm rich in sapphires and free of snakes, scorpions and noisy frogs. And long before that Romans believed the waters of the river Tiber were poisoned by a dwarf like creature (now you know why dwarf throwing is a sport on the continent), boosting the production and sale of cups made of lead which supposedly neutralized this poison (could this explain why the Romans are no longer a super power these days?).
These days with the advent of the internet, conspiracy theories abound like demented Jacks-in-the-box. One in five Americans believe the World Trade center was brought down by the CIA to justify a war against Iraq. One in ten Americans do not believe a plane slammed into the pentagon. (If that is so, where did a plane, half the size of a football pitch, and over 200 passengers, go?) Yes, in conspiracy theory ganja land, when all fails, we always have the trusted “get out of jail free” card: The Bermuda triangle.
Nearly 80% of diehard royalist believe that Lady Diana was killed by the royal mafia. If you try to argue with them, they will show you historical precedents going all the way back to Henry VIII when British monarchs regularly lobbed heads off like dandelions, irrevocable proof that an evil murderous bloodline runs through the house of Windsor mafia clan. Over 300,000 Americans believe Elvis is still driving around Texas in a pink convertible Cadillac and nearly three times this number have actually claimed to have seen him. One in three people actually believe the Vatican and NASA have entered a secret pact to convert little green men into Catholics. And just in case you are wondering, there are actually people who believe in a conspiracy that the water supply in America is laced with mind bending LSD. Closer to home, we all know Mat Selamat was abducted by aliens – how else could a man with a bad leg pull of a reenactment of Shawshank redemption all by himself; that could explain the mountains of toilet rolls; after all, we all know those little green men cant be taller than pygmies.
My favorite conspiracy theory is the one propagated by the ministry of very homely affairs headed of course by my 86 year old grumpy granny who has a theory that the chicken rice man actually paints his birds a yellow tinge to give it a healthy and natural glow. Of course I humor her by removing the skin, but it hardly helps when the topic of discussion every weekend when we eat there is: where did the chicken man hide his pail of ICI? The funny thing about conspiracy theories is, they are a bit like culture (I am not referring to art galleries rather the Petri dish variety) – they multiply and grow. So, one day, when the chicken tasted a bit gamey, I could have sworn that it tasted a bit like paint – see what I mean.
Fortunately as far as conspiracy theories go, we Singaporeans are still very much tender foot babies. So far, our mania has been confined to bubble tea, bleached chopsticks, doggy Malaysian veggies. We haven’t really gone overboard have we? We are, after all, the level headed sort (yes, I need a side table to put my tiger beer and chips during my football matches, so if you are female, pretty and level headed please do volunteer to complete my Ikea collection.).
I guess in an age where anything is possible, skepticism is vogue and straight forward explanations are simply passe. Any theory, no matter how implausible, garners its fair share of adherents. Like the fable marijuana smoker, some will always gravitate towards the harder stuff, while others are content to stick to second hand smoking.
One reason why conspiracy theories take hold is because it palliates much of our fears that stems from our condition of powerlessness and impotence. When times are uncertain people naturally feel they have absolutely no control over their lives and its sharpened when those levers of power are suddenly connected to nothing – we panic, our heart rate shoots up, we sweat and the feeling of estrangement is heightened.
It doesn’t help either when so many things which once served as all weather reliable providers of the good job, good home and good life – have simply frittered away with each successive revelation that simply tells us the evil eye is fixed squarely on our lot – its hard, if not impossible even these days to believe in anything and anyone any more; even the whole idea of leadership is challenged; when so many have recently been defrocked as con artist, congenital liars and psychopaths who were simply out to hoodwink us all – harder even to buy into the idea of permanence when so many things which were once fixed like bollards seem to have given way like the river to the infinity of the sea – firms, businesses, political parties, ideologies and even the whole idea of good and bad are all up there in suspended animation . Against this topsy turvy world – where we might even be floating around lost and rudderless, it’s all to easy for many of us to confect all sorts of theories to soothe our battered sense and sensibilities; simple explanations it seems just doesn’t seem to be able to square off the accounts between our shattered dreams and the faint sense of hope that we once so carefully nurtured – if anything only the fantastical; surreal and incredulous seem to be able to able to supply a cogent account.
But maybe lightning just follows the path of least resistance and strikes very much like the roll of an ivory ball on a roulette wheel; there’s really no art or design to it; maybe a suicide is just a suicide and reading more into it may just as well produce nothing more than a mass of confused thoughts at work; maybe firms just belly up because that’s what happens when lousy leaders make lousy decisions; God isn’t angry with us; the Jews didn’t cause a global recession; the freemasons aren’t adding mind bending drugs into our water supply and the evil brotherhood isn’t trying to rule the internet.
It’s all up there in your mind, spinning like windmills – breathe…it’s just another day in Singapore.
The Brotherhood Press
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March 14, 2009
I am going to Beijing for business again; I’ve be flying in as usual in the afternoon – 3 hours before it gets dark. You know what? There must be a better way to go through life besides you slamming down the phone on me everytime I call you; I really cant think of a more painful way to go through life, kicking and screaming through it all – really there has to be a better way – I figure.
I guess learning to accept myself is the beginning of change. Learning to accept you and me is the beginning of wholeness – somewhere amid it all, love is supposed to win the day – I have been told - it seems, it not only sees more and enfolds even boundlessly, its the reason why I hope you will see me again – instead of slamming down the phone on me again as you always do.
I will wait as I always do where you know I always sit by during the afternoon when the sun wanes - I will wait for only an hour; I would wait for an eternity, but this is the length of time, I can only allow myself, as eventually all playing has to come to an end – I hope you will behave like a woman – and I really have no choice, except perhaps to behave like - a person who simply loves you very much and will never ever let you go again.
This is my last business trip to Beijing – I’ve been making too many and my bosses are getting suspicious it seems.
P.S: I know you’re reading this; I know you’re smiling now and this is perhaps the happiest day in your life – I can feel it.
March 14, 2009
Today is big cycling day – I have only 15 minutes to spare, so lets skip the foreplay and dive straight into the deep end – tell me! What does it take to produce a free and independent press? Don’t think – it’s a simple question. OK, allow me to paraphrase it to make it simpler for you: what would be required to seed the supreme good and drive out the dystopian bad from our newspapers?
Did you say government should free up our press? Well you know what? You’re dead wrong!
Now before dwell deeper into how to build a better newspaper; it may be a good idea to discuss why a free and independent press is so important; if like me, you’re been following the sex in the city reportage surrounding the untimely deaths of both Widjaja and Allan Ooi; many things can be said here about slip shod reportage; they’re really too many to point out – you could just as well take your pick – everything from mind bending innuendos that is designed to cast doubt on the character of the deceased; right up to perhaps oblique references which suggest they may even be mentally unsound to perhaps good olde fashion character assasination – all would have made perfect sense; if only it wasn’t so easy to compress these accounts into a postage stamp and rubbish them within the time, it takes me to drain my bladder – that’s the cost of a lousy press – instead of news – all we get is gibberish.
Some in academia have forwarded the idea; one way of revivifying the fledging fortune of our press is by giving it more leeway and latitude to report and comment on current affairs – I don’t buy into this simplistic straight line account as its really closer to alchemy than anything that resembles cold cut logic; the problem with the freeing and opening up theory is it suffers from the same set of elusions it tries to inspire i.e by simply ‘opening’ up on a regulated press. It assumes endless opportunities for a broader all inclusive national discourse that will hopefully recruit an eclectic class of readers who may be willing to indulge in a spot of literary Sudoku.
That however is only holds water if you can believe for one moment the press corps is able to step up to the plate and play that sort of higher value added editorial game that world class newspapers excel in – truth suggest the ST may not even have those base line intellectual capabilities.
And one reason for my lack of faith in the press corps is due to the overwhelming evidence to suggest the condition I often describe as “department thinking” is now currently so prevalent amongst journalist, that it has calcified and even fossilized to levels which makes real cultural change impossible – its conceivable they (ST) may no longer be able to play the role of the fourth estate any longer.
This should prompt us all to consider very seriously whether; the whole idea of freeing up the press instead of driving out the bad by further freeing up minds may instead produce the reverse effect; life I am afraid is not so simple; decamp from authoritarianism and state control and magically happy democratization takes root like one of Jack’s bean stocks – that didn’t happen when the former soviet union bought into the whole idea of democracy – what preceded instead was balkanization and something akin to civil war. The same holds true for the Iraqi hubris; does everyone pine for democracy? Yes, they do; the only problem is what the Iraqi’s really want is democracy of a variant that has nothing to do with the Pax Americana ideal and theirs is really closer to an Iranian inspired theoracy.
As we can well see opening the press alone by freeing it up further is not nearly enough to give the ST an extreme makeover to make it a sleek long legged liquid eyes WSJ.
Neither do I buy into the idea of populist punditry that so often forwards the theory: one reason why our net these days resembles a zoo, is because the MSM isn’t allowed a freer hand to shape the collective consciousness by being able to write what they want – that homily sugary idea would only really make sense – if you did not know for one moment the human raw material that one may expect to work with to turn a flabby press into a first class outfit may in fact be harder that raising the Titanic – tragic realism suggest complacency may be so riven within the ranks of the press corps what we may have instead is something closer to the idea of a ‘crippled press,’ – and if that’s true; you may even have to entertain the valedictory belief they may be even incapable of stepping up to the role demanded of them of what we usually associate with the fourth estate.
Here history steps in and gives us a clue into what it really takes to build up a free and independent press – it would seem for a free press to come about – one may even need to throw out all our templates about how to build a better newspaper – as history suggest very strongly the crèche that usually produces the best journalist are not the zoo keeping type that is endorsed with the appellation of government approval to write what you want providing you disagree with me under my terms – but rather good journalist, good editors, good newspapers seem only to emerge directly from the bedrock where they have to struggle perpetually in the discomfort zone.
It stands the test of reason; against the acute reality that he (the journalist) may actually be the vanguard that wordsmiths against big corporations, big power and big politics – his version of reality is the only thing that separates us all from the mind dumbing version of reality that state imposed officialdom tries to forward – this effectively demolishes the myth of freedom to write in comfort may in fact produce nothing but rather more of the same to even suggest it is worthless as a way of building a better newspaper; if anything the entire crushing weight of history suggest without the fear of state inspired harassment, persecution and bullying it may not even be possible to produce such a thing as a credible journalist.
As in this desolate cold place where the oppositional writer puts his writing instrument on creamy paper; writing ceases to be writing in the truest sense and instead what emerges is its not designed to change anything as much as it strives to preserve something intact; that which is preserved may be the reality; things are never as simple as they often held out to be; it could be something worthy; something dreamy like having the right to read poetry or even a battle royale that attempts to take on the necessary lie of every successful regime.
I suspect here freedom does little to inure the oppositional writer with the right spirit to tease out the nuances and to seek out the greys in our omnipresent binary world.
If anything when that day comes when writers and the guilds they belong too and this includes journalist, bloggers and even the lone diarist are singled out for wreaths and honors and described in post scripted terms as exemplary models who we should all emulate by politicians; it probably also means real writing, deep spirited discourse along with the grist of the social narrative that continually seeks out the truth has dwindled to near nothingness, that I am afraid also means the thing we’re talking about when we use the word, ‘truth’ has reached a terminal end.
OK. I need to go cycling now; please do feel free to spell check and correct for grammar – bye for now – may write again, so check on down here from time to time.
The Brotherhood Press 2009
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March 13, 2009
Why do some things, people and ideas remain ageless and timeless? While others can just come and go like Haley’s comet? What’s the ONE winning secret that separates a winners from a loser?
Perusing the landscape of winners and losers suggest, most don’t make it simply because nothing is supposed to last forever. The Roman Empire didn’t make it. Neither did the Greeks or even the great Chinese empire, so why should we – truth is we’re just as vulnerable to the chastening passage of time. What this recession really shows us is nothing - and I mean nothing can last forever; not even if it comes with the copper clad 100 year appelation of Lehman Bros, or the juggernaut size of Bear Stearns and panoptical financial reach of AIG.
Time it seems is the great equilizer – the great leveller, even.
But every now and then, we all come across those firms, individuals and even stuff which manage to slip through the odds and manage to make it. Nothing seems to affect these winners, not economic melt downs, natural disasters or even cataclysmic events like war or plug, play and throw away age. They’re just anchored like the stoutest lighthouses shouting out at the top of their voice, “come what may, I am here to stay!”
What am I talking about; that old bike that just rides better than it looks – you just know once the gear mashes followed by the forward glide – this a winner / or that girl that you always go back too – and no matter what may come and go – she will always be right in the middle of your life – or even that buddy that’s always been there.
But what’s lies behind the secret of these winners?
One clue to understanding why some things wax and wane, while others remain ageless and timeless is to be found in the science of life expectancies. To cut to the chase the math is pretty screwy here, so I’ve spare you all a comatose inducing lecture, but if I had to hammer it down to one phrase it would be this simply this:
“Stuff (and this includes everything from hamburgers, firms to governments) that endure are designed to beat the law of averages.”
Of course, I am simplifying big time here gutting out whole chunks of math, stats, axioms and even disquisitions so I know some of you out there will probably be hollering at the top of your voice, “You idiot, what about wear and tear, weather and a number of other factors can influence life expectancy like a lousy attitude?” OK, I hear you, but if we square off the irritating details with our broader than broad rule or ladle and discount anomalies like housewife’s who regularly electrocute themselves because they don’t know how to use a power tool or drive their cars into bollards etc – the whole of idea of beating the law of averages is actually quite a robust theory that does a very good job of explaining why some products, firms and stuff manage to thrive long before the end of their expected life spans.
A big chunk of the reason is because we don’t usually use all functions that’s offered by either products and services regularly marketed by firms. Don’t believe me, when was the last time you took a picture, saved it and printed it into a photo? Or how many programs do you regularly use in the latest Microsoft Vista? Even the number of songs you listen too in an iPod, if you tabulate it out, it would probably be less that the regular 100 odd despite the capacity to hold 5,000 tunes. By the same logic, I know the latest PDA offers probably 1,000 new functions complete with all the bells and whistles of regression curves cum extrapolation that basically even allows a novice engineer to build an atomic bomb, but if I really squared off the day to day usages of functions I regularly use – I would probably end up lets say simple addition and subtraction – the rest you could just chuck out and it wouldn’t really make any difference.
So the key to understanding why somethings have this enduring capacity to remain ageless and timeless is to look deeper at the 20% instead of trying to figure out the larger than life picture of the 80%.
And what does that mean; well simply this – if you are going to love a woman to bits, its going to be that 20% that makes all the world of difference and never the 80% (like how she never shaves her armpits) – if you’re going to put rat poison into some ones coffee its probably going to be the 20% that pushes you over the edge (that could explain the stabbing pain somewhere in my liver right now) – if you’re going buy car A instead of B; the decider is just going to be 20% and if you win or lose in life – the margin of between the thrill of victory and agony of defeat is just separated by that elusive 20% that makes up the rest of the 80% to make up the wholeness of 100%.
And that’s all I have time for. Its time for my morning run, I’ve be back again in part two with the rest of the 20% of this essay – stay tuned and remember to check out our new portal in wayangparty.com.
Remember, life just boils down to 20%.
(to be con’t)
March 12, 2009
These are 10 things in life which has saved my chops more than once.
1.Trust no one, especially those who are closest to you and least of all yourself – trust only the facts and the results of your research.
2. Past performance is never an indication of future performance – if someone or something was good to go BEFORE; that just means, it MAY let you down when you least expect; go through the check list, make sure everything is tight and the way it should be.
3. Never ever fall into a pattern of behavior and thinking that makes you predictable to the opposition; break it up so that you will always be a moving target and always remain an unknown quantity to the opposition. Remember the game is to make sure he ALWAYS uses more energy and time to get ahead. Wear him down.
4. Make sure your girlfriend or wife loves you completely; make sure she loves you so much that she cannot live without you; if its anything less than this; then as our Northern cousins say, “tak boleh pakai,” its no good; it just doesn’t come around – dump her – go to the next one - keep things simple with a woman – don’t complicate your already complicated life. Always be faithful to her and never ever fuck around or give her cause to doubt you (if you really cannot tahan then just surf some porn to let off steam) – remember this is the most important rule not to get fucked up in life.
5. Always have an exit plan; most people plan the heist right down to the tee, but they never ever give the escape the same level of detail to attention. Make sure you train for the exit again and again, till you can do it blind folded – it matters little whether it is relationships, business or just sports – always have an exit plan.
6. When you know you’re being eyeballed by the opposition; never ever let the other side into the real deal; just behave normally and remain calm – that gives them the impression they’re in control and lulls them into false sense of security. Do and say everything they expect and even lead them to underestimate you by regarding you as a complete idiot – Remember it’s just a game and its never how well you play it as much as how well you go along with it.
7. Avoid strange and beautiful women at all cost – 9 out of 10 if you check into a plane and you’re sitting next to one – someone sent her; you’ve been red flagged and if you trade in your brain for your anaconda for even one minute – you’re toast; I guarantee you – 9 out of 10, if you get into trouble, its because you’re thinking with your dick. Never ever do that!
8. Always pick and choose your battles; some fights will bleach you white and leave you drained even if you win; others you simply have to take on no matter what the cost – knowing which is good to go and to hold back on requires wisdom.
9. Never ever be greedy; set a max point, once you reach it; cash in your chips; get out. If the min point is breached, cut your losses and just move on to another game – keep to the discipline and never ever reinforce failure.
10. Recognize your nonsense as nonsense; audit yourself regularly to get rid of nonsense; once you can see your nonsense clearly as nonsense – 99.9% of your problems will just disappear; it can never come back to bite you again; you can just move on and win in life.
The Brotherhood Press 2009
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You know what; I don’t trust survey’s – and one reason why I always regard them with askance is simply because; they’re suffer from a failing common to bikini syndrome – its never how much is revealed; but how well they manage to cover up the bits we all like to see…..but cannot.
Take for instance the latest survey conducted by the Washington-based National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Boston Consulting Group which was reported recently in the ST, entitled Singapore tops in innovation– at first glance seems innocuous enough; nothing really suspicious sticks out; all the bits are even tucked in.
But lets just peel the veneer and look what’s really underneath; for example: how was the results of the survey served up; lets see, Singapore was rated as the most innovative nation in the world, out of an overall list of 110 countries – I mean it reads plain and simple enough like I said; only do you get that familiar sinking feeling something is amiss? I mean; if we are really that innovative country on this planet then how come the ST is languishing somewhere in the 147th just behind the Timbuktu morning post? Why was it so difficult for Temasek to find a local to fill the post of CEO? Coming to think of it why did Temasek and GIC lose so much money? Get my drift? What’s rolled out just doesn’t seem to gel very well with reality; my brain is hurting again.
And let me tell you what lies behind the massive cognitive dissonance – firstly what our beloved rag ST deliberately failed to tell us all is – this is an industry survey, that’s to say it narrows the definition of innovation to roughly the diameter of a pin head – Question: was this narrow ambit of the term “innovation” ever mentioned in the article?
Next what it attempts to do is elide the cogent and instead promote the superficial; and how was this statistical sleight of hand accomplished? Well if you bothered to do further research and read up on the terms of reference of the survey (that incidentally was not even discussed in this article) what you will find is the definition of innovation is specifically limited to appraise only two general metrics output: new products or knowledge; and secondly business innovation that result in higher quality and productivity (incidentally this includes activities like immigration as well) – now where the problem comes in is that’s a bit like saying, you have the fastest car in the world, but forgetting to mention it doesn’t have any brakes – the whole idea of us being the most innovative country in this planet would only make sense; if you didn’t know what’s actually being appraised isn’t even innovation in the strict dictionary sense as it remains innovation in the context of business re-engineering that incidentally has absolutely nothing to do with our normative understanding of the word – innovation.
As what this study really measures isn’t the REAL rubber-meets- the-road Innovation that we all associate with launching a weather satellite into orbit – or being able to design computer controlled toys that vibrate to keep lonely spinsters in the delirium of the floating world – and why is this so dangerous? Because when something is misrepresented then it runs the danger of being referenced and even used incorrectly. That’s the long and short of it.And why does this rile me no end; because it’s a bit like walking into Mcdonalds and ordering a big Mac only to discover the bread is soggy; the beef is wafer thin and it bears absolutely no resemblance to the Technicolor photo of what a big Mac should rightly be – in short it leaves an unmistakable metallic taste in the mouth of the customer that just says – “Can I have my money back please?”
If anything the write up by ST is a pithy summary of how we – the readers are often given side A only to be left wondering what happened to the side B?
What I find really disturbing about this write up is how it brazenly elides wholesale the cogent and promotes the superficial at the expense of accuracy – that surveys should be simplified right down to its nuts and bolts so that Ah Kow, Muthu or Ahmad can gobble it down with their morning kaya bread certainly goes with the whole territory that makes up journalism – But where it degenerates into churnalism is when good old fashion propaganda is passed off as the news of the day – served up a la Pravda al dente; where simplification comes at the price of confusing understanding by making generalizations about the real world.
At best, this hackneyed attempt to account for how we suddenly found ourselves to be the most innovative country in this world doesn’t edify or even nourish our understanding as it generates maybe a slew of questions how this could have even come to past – had ST went on further to volunteer this information – the missing blanks in the narrative could have been filled.
But as far as bracketed reportage goes; at best all it does is inflict pain to thinking folk – marooning them in their skulls as they try to make sense of the incomprehensible – at worst, it lulls those who are already terminally supine within the system into a false sense of hope and security – we cant be that bad after all, we are after all No.1– and that in a nutshell brings us all full circle to account for why we cannot possibly be the most innovative nation on this planet; not even if there is a survey that suggest otherwise simply because if there was ever such a thing as innovation; it never once emerged from an oligarchy that was so fearful of change – that all they seem to do is promote the idea should they even tamper with the status quo ante, then whole edifice will simply come crashing down – and that incidentally is the truth and nothing but the truth.
Next time ST, just give us the news and spare us all the mind bending falsehoods, distortion and propaganda, keep to journalism and spare us all the churnalism. And you can keep the sauce as well (wink!)
Got to go cycling now.
March 11, 2009
Seven years ago / space time: 800 years, some time during the age of steel – the brotherhood begun work on Mindscape® - a revolutionary new propriety technology that will one day transform how each and everyone of us will one day interact with the virtual realm.
In that time our engineers worked day in and day out in garages and in rooms where clothes go to die all over the world; most of the time work never stopped even so much as one minute, most of the time, these cottage run researchers had to pay straight out from their own pocket; most of the time, their work went unrecognized – the great army of the anon rubber brigade was born – spanning over 30 countries – mindscape may have started as just an idea, but as the years progress – it pioneered new ways of collaborating on an international scale – where for the first time we used time lapsed engineering and water based isotroply simulations – many believed this could not be done – but it was actually developed by a bunch of IT engineers in Santa Fe working in a refurbished ice cream van - this just goes to demonstrate that big ideas can come from the most unexpected places – but the greatest accomplishment of mindscape as an idea or school of thought is it managed to raptured the most intelligent gamers throughout the world to all come under the banner of the under ground confederation to challenge the big gaming firms like Sony and the evil empire of Bill Gates Microsoft-is-my-brain. As not only has Mindscape united hundreds of dreamers, but has given every single gamer the belief this is what it really means to be alive in this age and to share in a common dream – Yesterday for the very first time at 0345 GMT – a trial run was conducted in the virtual at Primus Aldentes Prime with our American and Russian channel partners – The Californian 16 and the Molotovians, it was a success – there is still much work to be done, but I am confident, we are finally beginning to see the first ears of the our harvest - one day, we will all be able to hold eternity in one grain of sand…one day my friends…we will be able to build paradise here on earth and make it a very beautiful place.
Now you must all excuse me, I must return to my work.
Long live the brotherhood!
March 10, 2009
Find out what the author of this essay thinks about the Strait Times - The Most Innovative Nation In The World Needs An American To Run Temasek??? March 11, 2009
Some things in life can get you killed – nope, I am not talking about the second hand smoke type of death. I am talking about the king cobra variety where you’re dead in 3 minutes flat.
I am talking about the things that seem benign, harmless and even safe; but nonetheless they pack as much punch as one swipe from the reapers scythe – people who deal with death all the time know this only too well. Don’t believe me go and ask any policeman who has ever worked in homicide and he will tell you – if you’re going to be slashed to death or stabbed, 9 out of 10, its going to be that dinky fruit knife or letter opener on your desk – its never going be a commando knife – if you’re going to die on the road; 9 out of 10 its not going to be on a stretch of road that you’re driving for the first time; its probably going to be the route you take every single day.
Death can come anytime, anywhere and it lurks in the most unexpected of places – now most people will say that will never ever happen to them; but you know what; when they say things like that, they’ve just overlooked the very thing that will probably kill them.
Like I said earlier death lurks in the most unexpected places; that why I’ve decided to come up with this write up to give all of you a heads up on what I consider to be the top 5 killers of all time.
So let’s dive in starting from No.5
5. Things from above – you know what most of us don’t look up; but if like me you spend a lot of time reading up on Mossad and CIA techniques – then you must know that if you’re going to die unexpectedly, it probably going to come from upstairs; that’s why snipers like tree top positions – it maximizes on our natural blind spots.
Did you know once I cheated the grim reaper during a holiday in Malaysia by just shifting my sun lounger just away from a tree and within seconds a monster coconut that must almost weigh as much as a bowling ball just went clunk, broke the table into half like a karate chop – we are talking serious kilograms here; so if that thing ever hit me – that’s it. Now I am not saying that you should go around with an army helmet when you next decide to sunbath – only be mindful of stuff coming down from upstairs! And that includes cats, aunties, fridges and even the odd lightning bolt – as the Merlion found out when he was minding his business vomiting water, now URA is going to put horns on him (lightning arrestors), I really don’t know which is worse.
4. Mondays. Did you know that 90% of heart attacks occur on Mondays between the period of 9 to 11 in the morning – I bet you didn’t know that – Mondays are hazardous to your health; and one reason why Mondays are natural born killers is because most of us dread to return to work – so our blood pressure goes up; pupils dilate and our glands start producing heart attack inducing chemicals.
In fact, I hate Mondays so much, I just wiped it out from the calendar – what I do is treat Monday as an extension of a very long Sunday. So if you want a promotion or get on top of your boss; just ladle the bad news thick and fast on a Monday; when he starts to turn purple and bluish – that just means, you’re getting ahead in life.
3. Food. Now the reason why food is a killer is because we eat a lot; if you consider that we put stuff into our mouth 3 times a day and in between munch on other stuff as well, then in the course of a year; we are really talking about somewhere between 10,000 opportunities to die while munching on something.
The thing that kills you isn’t poison puffer fish but rather it comes from choking to death. Stuff just gets stuck in your windpipe and you just suffocate and die. Doesn’t take too long either about 3 minutes, that’s really how long you can hold out. So remember if that ever happens – just make sure you take off all your clothes and climb on the table and start jumping up and down. Hopefully someone in the restaurant will think its such a revolting sight they may even take it personally and give you a really hard rugby tackle thereby giving you something close to a Heimlich thrust. Remember don’t be shy about it – I rather be naked any day then dead.
2.Cars happen to be up there in the hall of fame of natural born killers – only because no one ever believes they’re going to die in a car; but I can think about 50 ways to die in a car; anything from spontaneous combustion to deadly carbon monoxide seeping into the passenger compartment – one good way not to die in a car is to make sure you dont confuse your car with your living room – dont put anything on your dashboard, bc when the airbag goes off, the last thing you want is to get a stainless steel buddha impaled in your head or something. When it comes to automobiles; always go for safety first, forget performance and the cup holder - I happen to be very particular about my wheels and you can really only go one way on this one, if you want to get it right: Mercedes Benz – I mean they are built so well that I once rolled over 3 times while driving at over 100 kmh on the ECP and my sisters kids were strapped in and after all that they just said, “That was fun can we go one more round pleeeeeeeze!” I mean, if I was driving lets say some Milo tin can on four wheels – that’s it. Finished – so remember safety belts are not enough; you need to get behind some serious engineering.
The No.1 Killer is Love. The undisputed five chili killer has to be the love of your life - its so dangerous, I call this the silent death.
Don’t believe me go and check out how many crime of passions and suicides are the result of relationships gone awry – that’s why choosing who you’re going to go with is probably the most important decision you will ever make in your life; if you fuck this part up; I guarantee you; it will kill you faster than cyanide – remember it pays to make certain you’re not going out with some psycho woman.
Most men don’t bother with the details when they’re dating; most don’t even bother to check out the goods – remember when it comes to people who you’re considering going the long haul with, it just doesn’t pay to be shy on foreclosing on the whole idea of caveat emptor – for me, I don’t mind fake boobs, but I draw the line on fake people – usually men miss out on what I call psycho char bor cue signs like –
Men: What’s your hobby?
Siaow Char bor: Oh I am into cats..
And they stop right there, then never ever go further; till they get hitched up with cat woman only to find out she just happens to the mother Teresa to all the lost cats in Singapore – by that time its too late as they’re probably sleeping in cages in cat urine reeking habitats.
You get my drift – be mindful of the psycho signs. And pay attention and stay alert (please check up one of my post on interrogation techniques, this will close the loop on this write up.)
The way I see it, go for the level headed ones – that way, if you need something stable to make up for your incomplete ikea collection; you could just as well use her as a side table to put your tiger beer and peanuts on for your football matches.
But the best thing that you can do to avoid getting killed by someone who you really love; is learn to love yourself first; that may sound selfish and narcissistic; but how do you even give love to another, when you don’t even love yourself?
In short never ever give yourself to another at the expense of cannibalizing on your own sense of worth and self esteem – if you’re going to give a 100% by all means give it the full toss of a decent 100%, but always make sure there is a 100% that loves yourself just as much – that way should it come to a sudden unexpected curtain call – you don’t ever do something stupid. You can close that chapter of your life under your own terms and move on with dignity – matters little whether its a failed relationship, job or even something that you once did but shouldn’t have done.
You fucked up Sandman No: 0774 / you broke your mothers heart into a million pieces and I don’t even know how to fix that and you left us all dazed and speechless; you fucked up big time – if you just picked up the phone and spoke to me; I’ve tell you that nasty piece of goods that you’re hitched up with is pure 100% garbage – girls like her are a dime to a dozen, they’re like buses; if you miss one another one just comes right along in no time.
It ain’t worth it brother. God speed, long live the brotherhood!
Announcement: The Confederation of Gamers will hold one minute silence & Taps for No. 0774 /Sandman @ Primus Time: 299437-94.
March 9, 2009
Did You Miss Out On This Essay? Check It Out The Joy of Stupid People March 8, 2009
4. “One day we just woke up to it Neo…no one really knows how the machines assumed total control….not even the oracle…” – Morpheus, the Matrix.
That in a nutshell is how all of us found ourselves suddenly living in the Matrix. But where it all acquires a sense of foreboding is most of us remain terminally ambivalent to the whole idea of compromised existence very much in the way battery chickens never dream about roaming free in green fields – life these days is redolent with countless examples of compromised living – from work till the day you die; compete till your sinews snap to the ceaseless competition; to the whole idea of perpetuating the belief this may yet be the land of the fee rather than free.
But did any of us ever once press the pause button and consider whether this is how life was meant to be?
Tragic realism suggest most of us hardly ever think about this whole idea of limited life; truth may even bear out even if we did manage to go beyond life in the matrix; all we would probably do is pine to return to the familiarity of our cages; in the way hardened criminals deliberately commit crimes so that they can be reunited with the cold comfort of their 6 by 10 prison cells – that’s usually what happens when one gets emasculated after years of institutional dumbing down by the apparatus of assimilation.
Life in the matrix has to be closely related to the craft of perfumery – a little goes a very long way. All it requires is the hint of authenticity – the rest we can just as well make up as we go along – matters little whether it is perpetuating the whole idea of the 1st division dream team or propping up the myth – only a handful of elites has managed to make the world a better place. Along with preserving the decrepit recognition progress always comes at a cost; and its always good value for money; what did you really expect? Didn’t you know nothing last forever! And just in case you didn’t know – if the good in this miserable world triumphs over evil – then its always by the skin of our teeth and the only way to prosecute on this good life is by sacrificing freedom of speech, liberty and choice at the altar of necessity.
That’s how many of us have come to settle for less. But what happens when the cogent is replaced by doggy bite sized generalizations? What happens when all newspapers can do is exacerbate the already acute sense of estrangement in thinking folk sharpening their pain further? The problem with the whole idea of selling less for more is it shows up in the practice it inspires – a politics that brackets i.e that (excludes, elides, embellishes and skewers) can only run the proverbial risk of trying to bake a cake without real eggs – it just doesn’t taste right – something is missing – and instead of narratives that nourish real understanding; what it does is merely heighten the sense that something is really amiss – where not only does political discourse lack resonance but it fails miserably to slake the yearning to bridge the divide, except perhaps to say this is really what life can only offer.
It stands to reason life in the matrix has to promote passivity; you cant be a very good battery; if you keep jumping out of your casing like a demented Jack in the box; so all articles need to be written in an easy open ended way that doesn’t provoke you to think beyond your comfort zone (that incidentally, is also the place where you die in steady increments, just in case you didn’t know – the comfort zone) – in short, the whole marketing manifesto of “fake is real” is predicated on serving one ratio. The necessary lie that makes the matrix real is; to paraphrase: its capacity to sustain the information exchange by ingratiating and making it seemingly effortless even if it means sacrificing of the truth!
5. “You need to take the step Neo……this is where the road ends for me and begins for you!” Morpheus –the Matrix
And this is where I must stop and you must consider whether you want to continue further on – the choice is yours – the journey that is – because this is not a road map where I tell you what is “real” and what’s “fake.” It doesn’t work that way if you’re already in the Matrix.
6. “Afraid? Be afraid Neo, be very afraid….I can see no more…it’s getting dark…it all comes down to you Neo…you’re last hope.” – The Oracle – The Matrix.
But before all of us begin the journey to re-discovering the “real” off or online Singapore (are you reading slowly?) – its even conceivable stakeholders in the online community (especially those who were not even invited to the recent IPS discussion on 4th March 2007 – which incidentally make up 98% of the online community) may even to consider rewriting the old compact between the custodians of power – do we really want to buy into the idea of empowering ONLY a select few to impose their mind numbing version of online nirvana on our minds? If we remain bovine; then we run the gauntlet of acquiescing our fate to those who may be the least qualified and have the highest motivation to preserve the status quo ante in shaping the internet– that can only offer nothing except perhaps remaking online Singapore into the image of real brick and mortar Singapore – and what one needs to consider is why even try to make online Singapore into the real image of Singapore when all one has to do is step out of the door to experience the latter?
Instead of deep spirited narratives to nourish understanding; if we relegate our fate to this new online world order what we may have to contend with instead is yet another round of endless chelating, leaching and bleaching of states and minds and schools of thoughts into ever smaller slices of nanobites – that reductionism remains the most reliable way to keep derelict academics, hacks and dead wood civil servants employed is never in dispute; but where it slips into a travesty of rational logic is when simple explanations by themselves become the ONLY basis for justifying, legitimizing and mythologizing the upkeep of the status quo ante – it matters little what hangs in the balance; you could just as well take your pick – from how the whole idea of “paper losses” and “long term” is used to explain away the Byzantine losses of GIC to Temasek – right up to perhaps the issue of online anonymity or whether we should appear more credible in our blog or even whether there is a correlation between gaming and suicide premature or the broader idea of how power and politics may shape our thinking – my point is in the absence of an oppositional voice, a contrarian view all of us would be none the wiser – and life in the matrix just goes right on – against this dystopian backdrop; the traditional set pieces of cultural authority don’t offer us a way out the matrix; if anything they seem to be ones who got us all in the gyre – it would not be exaggeration to say everything from the political sphere right down to the everything that makes up the apparatus of mass assimilation in the form of the media these days seems bent on only one corrosive imperative; sharpening our already acute sense of estrangement further and plunging many of us into a state of terminal apathy and indifference.
That could well explain why blogging offers the last manifesto for the disillusioned, dispossessed and disenfranchised; contrary to officialdom; it isn’t just the idea of hammering the government to pulp as its somehow culturally hip to do so or taking perpetual pot shots at the beloved rag only because it provides us all with respite to make our averagely miserable existence more bearable; on the contrary, there is currency to the belief people don’t just pick up something and do it, again and again, day in and day out for the nothing sake – its suggestive the whole act of blogging has to be a verb that is closely associated with the whole idea of faith; where it could even be said, the act of blogging provides us all with the promise of the last real hope – as long as we continue to struggle against the ceaseless cacophony of contrived reality, half truths and missing narratives in the real world – there may yet be hope for the rest of us.
The alternative would simply be a dystopian barren moonscape of settling for the glorious life of the alkaline battery.
Breathe you are still human…and that could just be the cue for you to look underneath your desk – maybe there is an envelop waiting for you with a phone…then again maybe, I am just kidding.
“You take the blue pill – the story ends here, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland …… Neo, I don’t know how it will end, all I can tell you for certain how your journey will begin.”
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