group20underwaterSeems to be the case – when one peruses through the online reaction of LKY’s recent riposte to Sadavisan speech here. only to be sharpened by Miss Chua admonishment of the online community Shame on you, young bloggers – it’s hard to deny these days the word that may comfortably unite proponents and detractors on their various objects of interest these days has very little to do with content or even generation gap and everything to do with the medium.

This should prompt us to consider whether the internet like some brain altering drug has somehow managed to change the way we think? Or maybe it’s detractors like steam engine cognoscenti’s haven’t figured out: how to get onboard the maglev train?

What really accounts for the ongoing divide between netizens and those who may regard blogosphere as nothing more than a brutish and feral haven? Why are these two groups always at each other throats? Why can’t they just sit down and see eye to eye and even agree to disagree amicably?

Most people may not realize this; but as I mentioned earlier, the root cause accounting for the odium may have everything to do with the medium rather than content; the internet, if u didn’t know like the telegraph, radio and TV imposes a new way of making sense of the known world – this is not merely a hypothesis; the process is already under way in earnest. In fact, it’s happening all around us even as I am writing this, altering the full spectrum of our thought processes and coloring how we would normally make sense of stuff.

It’s conceivable, when we talk of common ground these days; the entire question hinges on whether we have such a thing as a common vantage point? My gut feel tells me, the outcome may have everything to do with whether you happen to be a netizen or not.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say; this form of change is closer to the revisit of the invasion of the body snatchers – only it would not be an exaggeration to say the internet may have already altered our traditional cognitive DNA to such an extent; it may not even be possible for many of us to agree on the whole idea of what constitutes; collective consciousness – like the quirky idea of parallel universe and dual economies – we may have to content with the new idea of a dichotomy.

In this parallel universe, it’s conceivable  netizens may even see events unfolding in an altogehter different scale, speed and perspective from those who may choose to deride this medium no end – to paraphrase, we may have lost all hope of crafting such a happy thing as common ground.

This would seem like a novel dystopian theory; if only you didn’t realize cognitive change has always featured along side human history – when we first developed language, we significantly increased our ability to share insights and knowledge across time and space. And as language assumed text; it further compresses meaning into multiple layers of nuances, till of course, for every thesis there is an anti- thesis.

Unfortunately, with every cognitive shift, be it the printing press or telephone – it spawns the same dooms day dystopian warnings, we are all going to drown in a cesspit of electronic cacophony. In its wake the whole gamut of anxieties are dragged into the ark light about the possibility that the advent of the digital age may even do irreparable damage to our natural ability to think sensibly.

That’s basically the nub of such essays prosaically entitled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Which highlights how interconnectivity encourages dyslexia. Here the arguments suggest the spontaneity of medium is effectively rewiring our brains as we melt happily away oblivious to how our grey matter is frittering away – till it’s impossible for us to bear out the beauty of the written text without skipping the rest of the pages and fast forwarding to the last chapter (not a bad idea when you’re reading a novel like the Da Vinci code).

How true is this dystopian cyber take? Is our attention span giving way to the tao of the house fly? Are we becoming so accustomed to on the click information on our finger tips that we’re starting to find focusing and thinking hard?

There’s just one problem with that theory – for one it presupposes the human condition resides in a state that must be bubble wrapped as consciousness is so crumbly and fragile that we cannot be sensibly be counted to winnow the voices for more noise. In reality, Google may not be perdition, but rather salvation -as with each successive medium, our overall ability to make sense of stuff may actually make us smarter, rather than dumber, by exposing our minds to a form of cognitive obstacle course.

Even the once base and vapid, such as role playing games have become extraordinarily dense with detail, filled with countless references to broader subjects, and more open to interactive engagement. They reward the capacity to connect the dots and to seek out patterns—precisely the kinds of skills we need for managing in the age of information overload.

Besides too much has been made of “information overload.” For one the idea predates the advent the internet. My point is the conditions may be different, but the context remains one of the same reality – this is not “new” as much as old dressed and marketed as “new improved.”

If that last example sounds prosaic, it may simply reflect a brand new reality: the future may not bear any resemblance to the narcomantic nightmares to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World; we need not fear the idea of a population being dumbed down into automatons any more than we should live in fear of an alien invasion, as what’s likely to pan out may be a reverseal: a populace stuck permanently in hyper drive mode, searching out endlessly 24/7 for the last bits of competitive advantage – in points of views relating to politics, business and social insights – a sort of post modernist smartocracy.

For many barreling into this new electronic cacophony it can certainly be a jarring experience;  policy makers rue no end how their reasoned discourses no longer have the power to assert their cultural authority on the collective consciousness. Journalist write, only they do so with the knowledge while what they may have to say will certainly appeal to one segment of society; it’s also likely to alienate another and even the lowest of the low hacks such as myself have no immunity against this condition.

As I rudely discovered recently when a few disgruntled readers hijacked one of my online novels – dissatisfied with the abrupt ending (which they perceived to be a copt out when I did in the heroine a la Anna Karerina style), they proceeded to resurrect her from the grave by rewriting an addendum to the ending (that only confirmed my belief R.I.P really stood for Rise if Possible) – watching this green shoot take root, germinate and overreach to even garner a sizeable readership my initial glee gradually waned only to be replaced with a feeling that what I was witnessing could only be described as the signs of new times – that we may already be living in an age when everything can be replicated with remarkable ease and that no one person can possibly be the sole purveyor of truth, reason or even story. Matters little how well crafted one’s argument is – against this new calculus, even the humblest cyber sleuths can decoct an entire point of view from a droplet of inconsistency with the brain muscle of the internet – it may also imply netizens may have already grown so accustomed to variety and diversity; we may no longer settle for Simple Simon explanations; the spell it seems is broken forever; and with it, the whole idea of “good” be it in the form of good governance and good homemaking may already be commonplace; so passe that no netizen in their right frame of mind might even considers it extraordinary anymore, very much in the way serious gamers these days rely on military grade simulation software to plan their campaigns without even having boasting rights.

The amount of data we’ll have at our fingertips may well be staggering, but we may have finally gotten over the ga-ga effect that information alone is a hallmark of power.

That doesn’t mean we’ll all come to the same conclusions – it just means, increasingly “the truth” will become more elastic, malleable and open to infinite interpretations – as with each successive cognitive change the internet brings about; it opens up a new vantage point to view the same problem making all attempts to seek common ground impossible.

Like my book that suddenly came to an end only to pick up and run like that ghost ship the Mary Celeste for another season powered by a group of breakaway readers. Living in a world of information guarantees only one thing; we will clash more often’ the melee’s will be bloodier – and expect no quarter as the traditional set pieces that has always conferred a competitive advantage to those who may have been the custodians of power will not by themselves guarantee success – your opinions count for nothing online. If anything living in the information guarantees arguments emerging from the digital wilderness are likely be sharper and buttressed not just by strongly held opinions but by intricate reasoning that may even roll over and flatten what’s already on the table.

Against this dizzy backdrop; when we look back at who we are and where we are going as a people and nation; don’t be surprised if most netizens may not wish to review it with the sweet feeling of remembrance of things past; but rather an aghast at how ridiculously shambolic the disputes of our present age were squared off in the public sphere, just as we might snigger at full frontal tobacco advertisements from some by gone age with that all too familiar condescending – they didn’t know better chuckle – as for my online book that suddenly put on gym shoes and ran away; the main protagonist and heroine have migrated to the US, they’ve taken to a microbiotics diet to improve the heroines sleep apnea and Hatha Yoga to show off to their new age neighbors, we’re very much in the groove (the main protagonist these days even ambles around in hemp slippers and wears only osho designed clothes); their only splurge seems to be an expensive apartment in Manhattan over looking central park; they haven’t got around to furniture yet and by the looks of it will never; the only thing that really stands out in this love nest is a bio degradable handmade mat from Sri Lanka that simply sums up the sign of our times – welcome to our brave new world.

Darkness 2009

This essay carries a code marker: 0977059 Doberman – this essay has also been published in Ekunaba 1 & 2 / The Strangelanders / SLF 1 to 7 (Malaysian Network) / Phi Beta Kappa / Just Stuff / Ikiran / – The Brotherhood Press 2009

SPECIAL MESSAGE THE SIGLAP READ CLUB

As some of you fine ladies may already know;  I;ve received unconditional assurances from the others that they will not proceed with a legal case against moir – I just need to get the same assurances from the SRC, what do you all say? Live and let live…huh?

I personally feel, it will do wonders to relieve my writers block – Darkness 2009

By the way – those rumors that happen be circulating in the grapevine, that we have pulled out, they’re all true – yes, you’ve got it straight from the horses mouth– I just came here to personally switch off the lights and tie off some loose ends.

As some of you may already know we were recently in KL to resite our brand new gaming hub and relocate many of our hard assets.

During that period, we had plenty of time to catch up with our Malaysian friends – one of them even invited us to join a group called Go Local Lah, which is a facebook group that aims to support made in Malaysia products.

I mean the whole deal sounds sensible enough; the economy is bad, so the whole idea of buying Malaysian is presumably to shore up the local economy by giving it a regimen of steroids – nothing wrong with that, till you need to vote for the idea with your wallet.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for patriotism, nationalism etc – but I am also mindful as an idea it can also be taken too far; and pushed what’s good can even be squeezed out leaving nothing except narrow mindedness and possibly xenophobia along with all the bad things that I rather not mention.

My take is simple Simon some decisions should have absolutely nothing to do with nationalism, state or even the whole idea of citizenry and everything to do with hardnosed business sense.

I shared this tit bit with my Malaysian host, she retorted; so you’re telling me, I shouldn’t be driving a Proton Darkness. I retorted curtly, well tell me, why do you drive a Proton? To which she proudly replied because it’s made in Malaysia for Malaysians and if we don’t support it, then we may not be able to continue to enjoy the fruits of industrialization – I really wanted to keep it nice, so I just left it there – but on my scorecard, I marked her down severely for her lack of business IQ, to me a car is a big ticket purchase and if you end up driving a coffin on 4 wheels no amount of patriotic fervor is going to change those lousy conditions. I am not saying Proton is a lousy car; I happen to know for a fact: it’s a lousy car and that started me thinking am I willing to support a product or service just because it originated from my country? The answer has to be a simple: no. However, ask me again: Am I willing to support that same product or service if it’s comparable in terms of value and quality to other products?

Yes. Call me self centered, but my point is simply this; I am not willing to make a blind sacrifice on the altar of nationalism, like this dumb woman who bought a Proton just because someone on TV told her if she did just that, she would be helping the local economy; the way I see if manufacturers, service providers and even the tea lady don’t even bother to accord me the respect that I rightly deserve as a consumer by trying their level best to met my needs – then why in the hell should I even bother to support them?

That’s not how intelligent folk regularly make good decisions – they don’t pile different things that have nothing to do with each other and attempt to square off the accounts – only seriously confused people do that –  apart from the issue of cool runs; there is also the moral delimma; I work hard for my right to spend my money, so why in the world should I compromise on the whole idea of less is more simply because it was produced in my country? Again it makes absolutely no sense to me; unless I happen to be into self flagellation.

The way I see it, the whole idea of supporting the local economy has to first make sound business sense before it can even take off as an idea; as, if let’s say I decide to buy a local product just because its produced by a Singaporean firm – then I should really ask myself: am I endorsing excellence or am I just condoning a way of doing business that I may not completely agree with? Am I actually doing that firm and those who may depend on it a favor? Or am I just keeping the status quo ante in place so that those firms remain so bovine and flabby that they will have absolutely no motivation to improve their business processes to deliver greater value and accountability to those who may have a stake in it? That just goes to show you how nationalism for nationalism sake by it’self so often leads to a hall of mirrors.

Some people may say, well it’s a chicken and egg situation Darkness – if you don’t support them when they’re lousy, then how do you expect them to improve? I’m sorry, but I don’t see endorsing lousy products and services as a intelligent starting line. Neither do I buy into the whole claptrap, it all begins with an act of good faith. Let’s get real, no one in their right frame of mind starts buying lousy products in the hope that manufacturers and service providers will eventually wake up and  see the light and start producing world class products and services. To me that’s akin to putting the horse before the cart.

The way I see it, the power to buy, elect, select and exercise your prerogative to say – yes, no or give me some time to think about it –  just happens to be your elemental right; it’s also your ace card (and just in case, you didn’t know it; no one can ever take that from you) – that means whatever decision you make should never be premised on hope or faith, if anything, it has to be evidenced based – if faith alone really had the power to turn the wheels of trade and commerce, then the whole idea of capitalism would haved cease to exist as an economic theory a long time ago –fact remains, people will always try to get away by trying to peddle off less is more given half the chance – matters little whether it’s a second hand car dealer, bent pastor or crooked politician whose out to cream the long run by selling you the short end of the stick.

I am a good businessman. So I know when it’s time to cut my losses /  one reason why remain good is because I enjoy giving others a good deal – for one I find it immensely satisfying and through the years; I haven’t yet found a better way to ensure they will always come back for more of the good stuff.

Only I like to receive a good deal as well from time to time – and if it’s short I’ve insist on the quantifiable good to drive out the measurable bad; if the accounts don’t square, bye -bye, nothing personal, it’s just business.

You have to be an excellent service provider,  if you want our patronage. It’s a buyer’s market, so get with it, don’t fight it, otherwise it’s going to be uphill all the way.

You might think I’m harsh. So what if I am? Call it tough love. I love my country, but I won’t support lousy business conditions that do very little to create the right conditions for e-business to take off. The way I see it, it’s very simple, if you say to yourself, you’re not going to settle for anything but the best – don’t be surprise, if you get what you wish for and vice versa – that’s how life has always worked –  we may or may not return, it really depends – or maybe we will just go on permafrost mode- but that’s another story I rather discuss when and if we decide to power up again.

For the time being,  we may have already passed the point of no return – sometimes, when a decision is made, for better or worse you just need to go with the flow – so lets just blow out the candle together and quietly say to ourselves, we had a good run for what it’s worth.

Someday. You will all see, we will make it over the brow of that rainbow – like I always said we will….someday, it will just all come together beautifully.  Brotherhood Press powering off now – see you all, you know where.

Darkness 2009

Did you miss out on this essay? Get it here when the “best” may not be the best – a study in the search for excellence

bikersWritten by Darkness of the brotherhood – If you are wondering why the word “Urban” doesn’t sound English, it’s because it has it’s roots in Akkadian, an ancient language that originated from the first city called Ur. Located in Southern Mesopotamia, present day Iraq – at its zenith 4,000 years ago, over 30,000 people clumped together to work, live and play in Ur-land.

Today prototypal Ur is universally recognized as the first experiment in city living. Ever since then, our species has continually defined cultural, economic, political and technology progress through their cities. City living is a linchpin – a peg – a capstone of how we as humans can best make sense of who we are and where we’ve heading in an ever changing world.

Cities have always been the center of cultural authority coloring the arts and sciences – a veritable lightning rod attracting – traders, scientist, play rights, philosophers, savants etc. Even these days in major metropolis like London, New York and Paris – one sees the same heady intellectual mix where Urdu mingles seamlessly with Yiddish and quantum physics sits alongside the same bench as the hatha yoga – that to me is not unusual: as cities remain for lack of a better word the clearest example of experiment with human material– that could account for why cities have always been the bed rock of cosmopolitanism, intellectualism, liberalism and pluralism.

As you can all see, I am not a great fan of keeping Singapore for only Singaporeans – that’s because that attitude smacks of small town mentality – which invariably breeds cosy insiderism, intolerance, secularism, fanaticism, parochialism, prudishness, false pride and stasis – in short, it’s good for nothing.

Fact remains nothing good and worthy of emulation has ever emerged from small town mentality – don’t believe me? Where did fascism take root? In a tiny hamlet called Bavaria where the movie the Sound of music was filmed starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer – only what Hollywood conveniently omitted was the hills were not filled with the sounds of music as much as yelping Jews as they were herded off to cattle wagons destined for death camps – as for Julie Andrews CEO ( who incidentally also came from a small town somewhere in forgettable Sicily), he was busy trying to earn his innings as Hitler’s pope – you could just as well juxtapose the same for the Klu Klax Klan a movement that originated from an obscure moonshine producing state in Alabama – my point is nothing good has ever emerged from the small, that’s because small is not beautiful; small just means what it means: small and probably good for nothing.

That’s one reason why I think the idea of keeping Singapore for only Singaporean is at best a lousy idea as what it’s likely to inspire may be closer to what we currently see in Pyongyang where everyone is smiling even when they’re tucking into tree bark congee and munching on mud pies; and when the pineapple eyed state in not snooping the hot topic on the table is hot air ballooning and tunneling – in short, the whole idea of small town, let’s keep it to ourselves and keep out the riff raff is predicated on a sobriquet dreamscape that holds out false hope – that great things can emerge from encasing ourselves in some memory of the past.

Here, I don’t doubt the converse of opening up may even mean Singapore may one day lose it’s appelation as an antiseptic wire brush state where everything can be counted to be straight laced;  we may even be fingered and resented as the enfant terrible of civilized living like NYC, Paris or Tokyo – notorious for their rudeness, brashness, crowds and moral turpitude. But what needs to emphasized is this doesn’t detract from the fact that may still be the best possible way for mankind to assert their cultural and technological primacy – to paraphrase, it’s not realistic to believe we can cherry pick only the good without having to take in the bad and ugly as well.

This only serves to highlight the complexity of opening up, or what I term the great human experiment. As it presents real challenges not only to policy makers but also many us who have to rub shoulders against strangers who may carry with them a completely different set of values and ideals. It doesn’t take a whole lot of brain juice to figure out what happens when you take people from all over the world – Kalimantan brides, Nigerian scam artists, British lager louts, American red necks, Bangladeshi expatriates, Mainland Chinese lamian cooks – and cram them all into a small place bordered by the ECP, PIE and SLE. How will they interact with each other? What are the possible outcomes?

I really don’t know. The stakes have to be high – where globalization is made flesh and we really are the whole world in one city!

And yes, we should admit this may also mean many of the problems of the world will probably wash up like flotsams on our shores. People after all carry their cultures, histories, religion and sense of being with them. And its not realistic to expect them to jettison all these baggages;  to exacerbate the complexity, they may even possess multiple identities – that an immigrant may not just be a knowledge worker but he may also a liberal, who likes to make chutney on his off days (that makes the whole void deck reek of curry powder) to send back to mummy & co somewhere back in India, Manchester United supporters and stir his coffee anti clockwise  – what no one can really predict is how one of those identities swallows up the rest to finally settle happily into what one ultimately refers to as “character” to complement the whole idea of nationhood.

My feel remains people will always be complex, and against this polyglot called the urban experiment it’s pointless to invest time and energy nitpicking on differences, you might as well go and plough the sea – makes far more sense in the long run to focus on the commonalities and what I term the calculus of reality i.e the decision to shift gears out smallville mentality may not even be a matter of choice. As this corrosive mentality not only promotes social isolation, it’s nothing short of burying out heads in the sand – as it nurtures the false belief we can take on the whole world with our limited human resources –we cannot.

That sobriquet dream would only command currency if you didn’t know every country in on this planet except North Korea and Burma is pursuing the same strategy of recruiting knowledge workers globally. Not even the US with its technological primacy would have been able to send a man to the moon without having to accommodate ex-nazi’s what more of a little island state in the tip of the peninsula called Singapore?

You’ve got to be kidding me right?

Written by Darkness 2009 of the brotherhood / Going where no mind dares to go / Brotherhood Press / Part of this essay has been extracted from “The Great Experiment Called City Living” / By Harphoon – Trajan/ The Brotherhood / Politics / Sociology / Econs / 23992/2007

(Extract from the Great hall sitting 903  / Presidium ref: 70392/ the age of steel – chapter 169 – the book of ages – the bible of the brotherhood – recorded by the chronicler.

His Excellency the centurion of the Presidium (Kadjal):

Gentlemen, this is not the first time the brotherhood has come before the Imperium to demand for money to prosecute on what I call madness of a kind that we have never seen before in our brief history; please allow me to recount the cost to the exchequer to date; 2 million Imperiums; seven of our best legions to finance the siege machine of this mad man and what is all for what gentlemen? – a tiny unknown port in the Andromena system that goes by the name of Prima Maritima. Gentlemen, allow me to quote what our pro-consul reported recently about Prima Maritima:

 “It is a black hole where they may even be only cut throats, liars and cheats of every variety known and unknown to mankind to be in this one place; and it is no exaggeration to say even the mercantile guild has given up all hope of conducting business with these knaves as all they seem to do is cheat and lie no end. I suspect their main preoccupation is piracy and trying to confect ever more innovative ways to evade tax – I can see no reason why we should even consider maintaining a garrison or even an administrative presence here – I respectfully request the council of the wise to consider this a black region in the virtual and to write off all our investments here with immediate effect.”

 So may I respectfully ask the right honorable gentlemen who represents the brotherhood why would we, the confederation even want to finance a war of attrition against the damned?

 Senator of the order of purple: Darkness:

Senators allow me to be candid, it is precisely because Prima Maritima happens to be a black hole where they may even be cut throats, liars and cheats of every variety; and it is even conceivable that the mercantile fleet may be entirely accurate in their assessment that we need to seize it as a strategic asset before anyone does – for it is well known in the universe no one except these people can escape the clutches of our tax laws with such impunity and even have temerity to hijack our mineral cruisers with such ease – on that score gentlemen, I am the first to salute them as they are worthy of our respect; but I do not wholly believe we may be dealing with a backward people here; backward people cannot out run our best ion powered cruisers; backward people cannot regularly smuggle elephant sized cargo without even leaving the slightest residue of electronic signature; backward people would not have been able to hold out against one of the well organized blockades for over 5 years without despite our repeated attempts to seek resolution through politics – I therefore implore the Presidium to reconsider the theoretical possibility – we may after all be dealing with a civilization that may even be ahead of us politically, economically, technologically and socially – against this theoretical backdrop this does not diminish my case as much as it lends it increased support as to why we must press on to seize this enclave as we may argue over many things that has been brought forth by his  Excellency who represents the Presidium of the confederation, but one thing remains patently clear: every single one in this sitting knows those who we cannot defeat, we must embrace. That has always been our way from time in immemorial then to now and I see no compelling reason why we should alter our ways: as there remains the possibility we may yet learn something valuable that we may not quiet understand from the likes of  even cut throats, liars and cheats.

Tell me gentlemen would the exchequer be able to levy taxes on the rest of our colonies and our protectorates if these knaves taught the rest of them, their weirding ways – my feel is we must the first the pen a dicta to ensure that they are with us or against us.

 This is how politics is conducted when in comes to trade in the virtual. Consider this carefully gentlemen what if Prima Maritima falls into the wrong hands – where will we be? The question therefore is not whether we should prosecute on this battle, but can we afford not too?

Some 4 months later, the recalcitrant port of Maritima capitulated and the keys of the city was reluctantly surrendered over to the forces of the confederation – by special dispensation from the council of wise. An emissary was sent to return the keys to Princess Soryanha with the words,

 “This is not an invasion. You misunderstand us. We come in the name of peace.”

On the fifth lunar year of when the penumbra passes over the Carpthanian plains transforming the sky blood red – a lone knight on horseback attired in the uniform of the order of purple appeared before the city gates; bearing letters representing the four houses of the guilds he could not be denied a royal audience with the keepers of the keys in Maritima who was then the Princess Soryanha IV of the Royal Persian Creche.

Though he was only one, the identity of this knight was well known to all and so feared was he, during the royal audience two rows of archers in full armor formed a ring steel around her royal highness – when the keys of the city was presented to her royal highness, she spat at it and asked for it to be returned to the lone invader who had once cruelly blockaded the port city of Maritima to which this envoy replied,

“You misunderstand us. We come in the name peace.”

This scene would be replayed for some 40 times with similar results – one day, this stranger did something unexpected when presenting the keys of the city this time it was tied with a flower – this was no ordinary flower, it was known as the Sintara Vitae, “the flower of life.” One of the seven wonders of the universe. One of the prized treasures of the brotherhood – this time, when the keys of city was presented to her royal highness Princess Soryanha, she took the flower and delicately placed it on her hair piece ever so carefully from that day onwards, the keys of the port city of Maritima remained with the royal crèche, its original caretakers – to which her royal highness Princess Soryanha, replied:

“Yes, we may have been too presumptuous. As this certainly doesn’t feel like an invasion. You may be right after all stranger…come sit with us and tell us more about your world.”

End extracted from pg 2,491 & 2,492 – The Book of Ages – recorded by the chronicler of the brotherhood – Sarhabath

climbing_huaynapotosi

Singapore has a strong claim as the world’s greatest collector of accolades – we are one of the most competitive nations in the world for this or that; our gait has even been registered by time and motion experts to be one of the fastest – yet I find myself asking these days what do all these trinkets amount too; to paraphrase how is any reasonable person supposed to make sense of all these trophies?

 To be perfectly honest with you; I don’t know but what I do know is when it comes to surveys – they’re all pretty flakey – I remember a few years ago Geneva was voted as one of the best cities in the world for business; when I stepped off the plane, I thought the bubonic plague had struck Geneva; as every shop was closed and the streets were deserted as I found myself walking aimlessly around like Will Smith in I am Legend – the same goes for Paris; last time I visited that romantic spot – I found myself dodging molotov cocktails and side skirting flaming cars as youths ran amok – certainly gives a whole new meaning to the city of lights – so forgive me, if I look on surveys with a tad of askance.

My point is to be the best one needs to look deeper beyond the dictionary meaning of the term best; if possible beyond the mere chimera of the numbers and key performance indicators; this may include questioning the cost of what it takes to get to the top of the hill – for instance no one denies China is growing exponentially like one of Jack’s magic beans stalks, but look deeper at the cost to people and planet; for starters they pay scathe regard to the environment and the social cost that makes possible this form of growth has not only exacerbated the divide between the have’s and have’s not, but is causing inequalities at every level – here we need to ask is growth without social justice arcane? And this should prompt us all to ask whether it would be far better to consider “best” by combining humanism with the whole idea of economic growth.

These days with the meltdown of the global economy and dodgy businessmen; “best” is hardly a becoming appellation – it doesn’t command the same level of veneration and respect it once commanded over our consciousness; gone are the days when we can even expect the “best” to deliver the gold standard or even make good their contractual promises – my point is if there’s any lessons to be gleaned from this economic meltdown – its simply this, nothing can ever be taken at face value any longer – no one is infallible; and the whole idea of “best” can at best be described as a crumbly idea – matters little whether it’s banks, corporate honcho’s, politicians or someone who is trying to sell you something on TV. In my book they all deserve a good looking over with a magnifying glass.

I am not saying we should all suddenly be paranoid and start looking beneath our beds for hidden cameras or think that we have been secretly invaded by aliens.

But you get my drift – it doesn’t pay to be too trusting. Or even take anyone or anything at face value any more – not with everything from banks and investments plans going down the chute – until very recently (unless you happen you be a minister or a reporter in SPH), if you worked for a blue chip company, you could assume that your job had no expiry date. But when you consider companies can no longer sustain themselves for any guaranteed period, how can they possibly guarantee you a life time job?

Fact remains firms these days are struggling against other firms to compete for a diminishing market pie so the whole idea of life time employment is fast going the way of the dinosaurs. Companies that have had generations of employees working under no-layoff policies are now dumping people like an airship jettisoning ballast just to keep from crashing and burning up.

When you boil all down to crud – you owed it to yourself to be mindful of the term “best” and what it really means and that simply means only the paranoid will survive.

As believe it or not you are literally your own corporation. And just in case you didn’t know it; you’re in direct competition with millions of similar businesses: that simply means you need to accept ownership of your career, your skills sets along with when and how to push, pull to max your opportunities.

Nobody else can do that for you. Not even God can help you and least of all the government – all they can do is give you platitudes and false hope – and that’s no good.

And that’s as real as it gets – it doesn’t get better than that – the truth that is. Now if you excuse me, I need to check up on my recent investment plan: I’m slightly paranoid that friendly Nigerian I met in a forum who claimed to be the long lost relative of Idi Amin is not going to come through with the money for the “best” investment plan of the century – I am kidding, really I am or am I?

Darkness 2009

 The Brotherhood Press 2009 – Going where no mind dares to go.

Special message to all the read clubs of the brotherhood press love story division.

I know many of you ladies want your money back. But please let me explain. There is really only one person writing these sappy love stories in the brotherhood press love story division – that’s me.

The rest of the boys find it a toe curling experience so they don’t really want to get involved that means: I am the editor; proof reader, distributor and everything that goes to make this package possible.

I have been very busy in Malaysia (this is not an excuse; it is fact: you can go and verify this with the read clubs in KL) trying my level my best to sell my inventions and trying to turn the wheel of life as times are really hard and difficult in Singapore – but I am sure most of you aren’t interested to know how or why we were all suffering there 24/7 and surviving on instant noodles; besides I don’t want to be a bore and dump on all of you or be accused of tugging on your heart strings for sympathy sake – but understanding is not too much to ask, I think – what’s important is when I was there; I worked every evening to complete the final installment of the on-going love story series that many of you ladies subscribed too last February, only this time – I chosen to rename it, “lover’s tale.” As the ending has been extended by another some 14 chapters (this comes free with no extra charge) – I wrote most of it during the evenings after work.

You can all call me a scoundrel; that I may be, but thief, I am certainly not – I never skipped town as some of you claimed and ran away with the dosh; I have always delivered on my promises. So there you have it.

The final part of the lover’s tale is now available; all you have to do is log in and read it – I hope this makes up for all the misunderstanding, lapses etc. There, there…everything is as it should be.

Meanwhile I remain yours always – Darkness 2009

P.S: Somethings will always remain timeless to me and one of them is the relationship between writer and reader – my hope is some of you will reconsider suing my pants off – as it would be a great disappointment in more ways than I can possibly elaborate. My feel is somethings are best left to the imagination – don’t you all think so.

Before we conclude this misunderstanding, allow me to leave you with a brief extract from Chapter 271 – “Only the fishes know.” Taken from the Lover’s tale – author Darkness of the brotherhood.

 Huang (main protagonist)“Every time when we talk about us – you seem to bring up fate and destiny…you speak as if its already written in stone and nothing we do can ever change it.”

 Soong “that’s how the world is from the beginning of time every woman knows that…”

 Huang “Alright if that’s what your mother says, here it is – a coin….if its heads, then we will just go different directions right here now…then we will take it from here and see where it leads too…..”

 Huang flips the coin – it twirls catching the last light of the waning sun. Soong lunges forward and tries to grabs it – the coin slips and falls into the lake – the couple come alongside the railing transfixed at the sliver of light as it dances into darkness – their eyes meet.

 Soong “I want to believe.”

 Huang “So do I…………Its best if we leave it to the fishes to know what may or may not come from all this.”

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