(To increase the font on this essay – hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +) It’s a simple question: why do we give names to some things, but not to others? OK lah, let’s just for the moment discount crazy people who are named after freaky weather patterns like deadly thunderstorms, twisters and hurricanes.

The subject has always intrigued me – as what it actually reveals is how our minds work, specifically: how we typically form emotional attachments and association to stuff and people.

I believe one reason why it’s easier to give, let’s say a corn yellow Volkswagen bettle a name rather than a metallic silver Toyota – is the former doesn’t suffer from the condition of facelessness that’s so often afflicts mass produced products. In other words, the bettle or for that matter any of those objects that are regularly churned out by the Apple stable, all have one thing in common. They all don’t have that factory made feel about them.

Coming to think about it; one reason why those objects can successfully whirl their way into our hearts and minds is precisely because they provision so much room for us to stamp our personality on them – that’s to say they appeal to our innate yearning for individuality i.e they represent the direct opposite of the generic. Thereby successfully embodying that elusive human touch – that could be the reason why some things just feel right to be named, while others are just plain unlovable and have to make do with serialized alphabets and numbers  - have you ever considered, no one would ever name a bus, the cheetah or the mule; makes far more sense to give it a boring number ranging from 1 to 1,000, but try doing the same for a boat and it just doesn’t come off the same way – strange eh. Never mind the inconvenience of naming buses, who in their right mind after all wants to be known as the guy who commutes to work on a mule? And what of the driver of the mule? How happy would he feel? But I digress…that’s another story.

Granted it may seem as though this whole discourse about why we can successfully form emotional attachments about some things while others just provokes terminal ambivalence is really one giant waste of time – but I am not so sure the case is cut and dried. In fact, I happen to be one of those who believe it’s even tactical and strategic! And if deployed wisely can even be a wonder weapon to win over hearts and minds. I ain’t kidding!

And why should that be so?

Consider this - we all know when people can successfully form an emotional attachment to something or someone – that thing or person immediately ceases to be intimidating  and the threat level goes down, that it turn tunes us to be more receptive, agreeable and congenial to what it or they have to say and offer.

Could that be one reason why the vast majority of us don’t seem to have any problems throwing rotten tomatoes as Wall Street bankers – for starters, they all come across as lifeless,  card boardish and so distant, they might as well be hacking away on the surface of the moon – is it such a wonder most of us don’t seem to have any moral hang-up’s labeling them evil, selfish and greedy?

Try taking the same aggressive attitude towards any of those doved eyed Disney characters and you will probably be labeled a bully and chased out of town – you get my drift – my point is it pays dividends to cultivate the human touch in whatever you choose to sell, market and put across.

Take another case study that involves the recent survey conducted by the Economic Intelligence Unit, which cited how 52 percent of public officials cited the lack of proper technology as a barrier, but almost as many also pointed to citizen mindset against online transactions as a major barrier to e-government initiatives – I mean why should that be the case?

Doesn’t make an ounce of sense if you ask me – as we all know given the obvious advantage of what e-transactions have to offer.

Unless of course you consider how difficult it is for most of us to relate emotionally with the persona of everything that has to do with the whole idea of government – once again what we may be seeing here is a classical replay of how most of us react to mass produced goods manufactured by faceless automatons that simply guts out everything lovable. Result: most of us (consciously or subconsciously) refuse to give them the benefit of the doubt or cut them any slack – all our defenses go up to combat mode and the rest is really history.

One reason why relationships in cyberspace between netizens and government has always been uneasy may lie in how our government since time immemorial has modeled itself as an infallible machine that’s not dissimilar to a super duper computer – that formula of cool calculating efficiency and hard nosed pragmatic effectiveness may have worked in the past when folk just gravitate towards basic needs like food, warmth and shelter – but as we move on higher up the Maslow scale to wants and desires beyond the basic needs – I am reminded a new sort of thoughtware needs to kick in.

As trying to get a handle on emerging problems whipped up by globalization and financial uncertainty – along with trying our level best to get on top of problems such as income disparity; wage inequality and the perennial problems of those who have and have not – usually require a combination of both hard and soft kills – and what’s being under utilized in the past is the gamut of soft skills that the government simply doesn’t feel the need to cultivate let alone project.

Maybe the question is not whether the government should get a soul. Maybe the right question that should be asked is whether they can afford to continue projecting a cold metallic mask of indifference? I really don’t think so….welcome to the brave new world.

Darkness 2010

“Darkness, we don’t want that psycho computer in the Intelligent Singaporean…do you hear us?”

“Cool it, you people are overeacting….we all know it isn’t a real HAL computer….it’s probably managed by a few computer geeks who are really just incredibly good at impersonating machine language.”

“Hey screw you Darkness! Do you hear us! That’s what you keep telling all of us! If it’s not a real HAL unit then how come it always wins in chess? How do you explain that! How can it compute quadratic equations in a blink of an eye? Can you do that! How can it calculate the probability of whether we slam into a planet right down to the exact inch whenever we fold space?”

“I don’t know – but what you really need to ask yourself is, if a group of people in cyberspace wanted to impersonate a multi-billion dollar HAL computer – how else do you think they would go about pulling off that sort of song and dance? Wouldn’t they regularly whop you and I in chess? Wouldn’t they regularly perform mind boggling quadratic calculations? And how seamless do you think the act would be, if they can’t even calculate the probability of whether we slam into a planet right down to the exact square millimeter whenever we fold space?”

“Aha…so we got you…you admit it’s a real HAL computer then!”

“Nope, what I am saying it’s all one big show involving smoke and mirrors…that’s all I am saying…you just need to go back stage and see it for what it is, not what your mind thinks it is…then all this talk about efficiency would be sterile.”

Conversation captured by an auto-bot in a thread taken from the Intelligent Singaporean 2007 – The Brotherhood Press 2010

 

 

Melt Down?

June 30, 2010

A picture speaks a thousand words – check this out: http://online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/marketsdata.html?refresh=on 

It’s all red.

What’s happening? Is this the beginning of the end? I dunno – but what I do know is it pays naught to lose your head right now – be cool.

Yes, I know. Gold has nosed dived $20 bucks in the last two days alone. Bond positions seem to be on the sky rocketing and the US dollar seems to be chalking up. On the otherside of the world, money seems to moving out of the Shanghai market by the truck loads. The Japanese don’t seem to be too bothered by the deficits. Indians and Arabs seem to be holding out on physical gold purchases, which is strange as this is really the period when gold peaks as it’s the marriage season. Everything seems to be going South in the S & P, but for some weird reason BP seems to be holding up pretty well. Traders in the London Metal Exchange seem to be taking long positions on Palladium and Silver, but they don’t seem very hot on Gold. In the Ivory Coast Coffee traders seem to be shorting the market by betting against Sumatran beans – Russians don’t seem too bothered by what’s going on.

As for me, watch as I might. I have absolutely no idea what’s happening – another crazy night. All I know is 5 or is it 6 phones have been ringing since 3.00 am - and I am just watching them move around the table from the safety of the distance – one of them has a pretty powerful vibration and it has moved from one side of the table to the other, edging out a couple of weaker ones (I bet you didn’t know if you stuck a paperclip underneath one of those suckers, you could make them go around in circles) - not going pick any of them up; infact, I’ve put them all in a drawer and just hope they run out of batteries…while I look out of the window.

I need sometime to chew on this! Stay at easy………………

Darkness 2010

Sumiko Tan

June 29, 2010

(To increase the font size of this essay – hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +) As some of you may already know Singapore’s famous Bo lang aih (most well known spinster) Auntie Sumiko is planning to tie the knot with “Hurricane.” (well like Katrina I hope you get a good hosing down while you float happily away in a wake of tin cans. Just make sure you have the deluxe package in your insurance coverage).

For me and I suspect many as well – this historical event presages an end of an era – yes, in some strange and unexpected way, I will certainly rue the passing of Auntie Sumiko singlehood status as she walks down the aisle in white.

Not only because through the years –  I have grown so accustomed (like getting so used to second hand smoke, you’re probably already addicted to nicotine) to her endless whining about unrequited love, remembrance of things past and what could have been but we shall never ever know yada yada yada yada yada (coming to think of it pleeeeeeeeeze take her away Hurricane…do mankind a big favor and save us all from perpetual bitching…just kidding).

But seriously what Singapore (though I suspect the lost to the Smithsonian and IMH will be far greater) will lose is not only a sobriquet caricature of the archetypal single professional girl who is looking for love in Urbana Singapore – in a rare of moment of epiphany,  it occurred to me (well the idea landed on my toast when I read that Sumiko is going to get married – I also nearly puked on my cat) maybe our lost is far greater, immeasurable even –it’s no exaggeration to say the passing Sumiko’s singlehood status may well represent the end of the greatest 20th century depiction of the constant struggle of a single woman as she tries to make peace with the crushing expectation of the “world” in Singapore - it would seem the answer does not reside in Sex and the City after all - Could it be….Granted it’s a stretch and you really have to be so opened that your brains are spilling out, it lies somewhere right before us – somewhere closer, in this disassembled collection of disheveled hopes and dreams called, the life and times of Sumiko Tan?

Well that’s not for me to answer. Besides that’s as far as I am prepared to pry into the life of another.  As the reader, this is entirely yours to fathom out. Besides some things should remain enduring mysteries, like big foot? Did the aliens build the pyramids? And of course how did Sumiko get hitched considering her vintage?

All I know is through the years Sumiko’s marital status has certainly supplied no end of cannon fodder to the brotherhood press for endless jibes, banter and barbed repartees. Yes, we were after all the ones who once christened the SPH as a veritable symbol of spinsterhood, the sisters of perpetual hesitation – where in this cloistered enclave when mother superior Sumiko cheerily intones, “I’ve missed the boat!” All her charges would exclaim, “well done old girl, our aim must be improving.”  And the list goes on and on.

In some curious way – I am happy the tale of the single professional girl who is looking for love finally took an unexpected turn.  And who can blame her.  Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces in their lives – it’s a primal pull, as old as the hills – the great human need to seek out wholeness, completeness and understanding . And who is to say what’s best and who’s right?

My gut feel tells me, she may have done the right thing - I am reminded some times,  you need to grab whatever chance you have of happiness wherever and whoever you may find it in, and not give two shit about what the world thinks – better still fuck the world off in one clean line.

My experience tells me – we get no more than three or four such chances in a life time to break cleanly out of the groove, and if we let them go, it’s darn hard to be kind to ourselves.

Travel well old girl and thanks for all the fish

On behalf of the all the readers in Ekunaba, PBK, SLF1 to 13 (3 additional new lines will be opening by the end of this month), The Strangelanders, Dotseng and the Confederation.

Darkness 2010

 

Double Dip?

June 28, 2010

(To increase the font size of this essay – hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +) Will the world economy slip back into a deeper recession? Is it time to cash out of the market? To be honest with you; your guess is as good as mine or for that matter any of the experts out there.

What I do know is the global market is pretty fucked up – fears of a double-dip have lingered throughout the long road to recovery but of late they have intensified as the economy shows little signs of real healing – this is suggestive when you consider the recent sharp trend in bond investing.

3 main indicators will remain: (1) employment figures – watch as I may, I have absolutely no idea where it’s going. (2) The US housing market is more or less bottom skimming and languishing. (3) As for consumer spending it’s so-so.

The prognosis in a nutshell is as follows: the market seems to have taken a wrong turn and it’s suddenly found itself in a lousy neighborhood and no one in the car knows how to read the map – this would suggest a double dip is the cards – then again, it may just mean the market is just working out stuff in the way a balding man eventually makes peace with how hair loss products are all useless. As he settles down to make the best of what little bitty bit he still has.

If I had to choose which side the market is going to go – I would have to say it could very well go either way. And one phrase plays a preponderant role here: It all depends…..

Ironically one quirky way in which a double dip recession may pan out is when governments, especially those in Eurozone begin to cultivate a shambolic idea of how austerity measures alone can be the best way to solve their economic woes – don’t get me wrong. Basically, I believe some basket case economies such as Greece can certainly benefit from a strict regimen of fiscal policies – the danger as I see it is when every politician in the Eurozone begins to buy into that same unimaginative single track idea; not realizing that even the most liberal austerity measures is not disimilar from putting a kink into the money supply – and without money circulating within the system, it just doesn’t come around – take the logic of fiscal austerity too far and what it may very well precipitate a full scale recession.

That incidentally was what happened in the 1930’s when some flat headed bureaucrat decided to stop the money flow (in the hope of jump starting the economy) and that set into motion a series of unstoppable events that culminated in a recession slipping into a depression.

Another thing that may trigger a double dip recession is when politicians begin to believe they know what’s best for the economy – to paraphrase; they actually believe that they know more about businesses than those who are currently in business – that sort of know it all attitude is just poison and the reason is simple Simon. Truth of the matter is governments know fuck all about business – as everything they drive either goes over a cliff, explodes or ends up producing stuff that no one in their right frame of mind will ever consider buying, like soviet build cars, apparels and cigarettes – so it is quite possible that when Obama & Co doesn’t even see the moral dilemma of deploying arm twisting methods such as forcing BP to create a escrow fund from its dividend pay out – or overruling the courts to stop deep water rigging – and attempting to roll out banking bill and the associated regulations – that’s just another indication we are definitely heading for a double dip.

Fortunately when it comes to both the US and EU, the vast majority of bankers and industrialist still regard their politicians as just glorified comedians dressed up in a top hat and tails – that’s important as it means the private sector will have plenty of reserves to continue fixing the system and getting back on track again irrespective of political bent.

In summary, I don’t think we’re headed for a double-dip but I don’t think we’re headed for a stellar growth either. As concerns about the Eurozone and really crummy housing and employment figures are problems that reside deep within the marrow of the bones of the system – and I don’t see them going away with a wave of the wand. These are systematic problems and the market just needs time to deal with them to spit out the bad and keep the good to get in shape again – so it’s fair to say what we may expect to see is jagged growth, that’s the slow and iffy type of growth; where the world economy takes 3 steps forward, slips, falls and gets back to recover 2 and so on and so forth – it will be a very long road to recovery, of that I am certain.

The long and short of it is this: if you happen to be a bunny rabbit trying to ace the market with double digit growth – I don’t think the conditions are ideal for that sort of game - sure, you could make that in a week (if you’re lucky). But in a slow and iffy growth market; you could just as well give back everything you once made to the market the following week. Having said that, one thing is certain – these are perfect conditions (and mind you, it’s rare to have such ideal playing terms) for the long term / high stamina players who are prepared to bear out even double digit free falls for the short term – fortune I am certain will favor the tortoise this time round – no doubt about it.

Darkness 2010

(Published in Ekunaba, SLF 1-13, Strangelands and PBK as well – the Brotherhood Press 2010)

I ain’t kidding – Sims just happens to be one of my all time favorite games. For one you get to play God on the cheap. That shouldn’t come as a surprise to some of you who are really unfortunate to know me personally (btw, can I borrow some money?). As I happen to have a pretty bad inferiority complex and from time to time, all of us closet pyscho’s would like nothing better than to take a holiday from our own loser flesh - but seriously, I think PUB should seriously consider simulating flood conditions in Singapore, instead of trying to play police and thief.

Firstly, simulation software makes far more sense than employing stadium loads of people who would normally just climb down a storm to shine their torches here and there (along with maybe disappearing for a few hours for a power nap); besides in the last few years simulation technology has been successfully used to model everything from freaky weather patterns to shockwave traffic jams – so I can’t understand why it cannot be successfully used as a early warning tool to prevent what recently happened in Orchard Rd. From what I have been able to make out the math is pretty run of the mill; nothing stellar – no rocket science there. I mean, I could just as well adapt some of the stuff that we regularly use for space traffic control and donate it to PUB for a fee or something.

As I said, through the years. I have learnt a hell of alot from just playing Sims. That just goes to show you – life as Forest Gump said is like a box of chocolates – you never ever know what it’s going to turn up.

Darkness 2010

(To increase the font size of this essay, hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +)

Hi, you know what happens, when government has a hand in everything – don’t you? Consider this: what’s really missing from the recent fiasco of the two monkeys who broke into the SMRT depot for a spot of Kilroy was here?

Well, going by what eight ball Sham has to say, we may all be barking up the wrong tree i.e the government is not to blame for this screw up. Infact, they have nothing to do with it! -Surprise, surprise! The joke is on you! You all have the wrong end of the stick!

Don’t believe me? Check this out then.  Speaking to reporters recently, Eight ball Sham said it is impossible to expect the taxpayer or the public to pay for the security of thousands of profit-making entitles in Singapore – to decrypt the official parlance, that’s another way of saying: that is not our problem; they screwed up; and not us!

He went on to add in clearer than mud fashion, you look at SMRT. It is an entity that makes profits. It is a listed company which makes profits for its shareholders. Is it fair for the public, through the government, to pay for that security either in manpower terms or in terms of the costs?….When it comes to private sector organisations, like the SMRT depot, it has been gazetted as a protected place, but the actual security of the premises is within the control of the company, as it should be, and SMRT has accepted that its responsibility is to provide for the security. Again the gist of what eight ball Sham is trying to forward here is the same get out of jail card - hey! You guys are pelting rotten tomatoes at the wrong people! Didn’t you hear me the first time around – for the last time, we have nothing to do with this monkey show!

You know what? Sham happens to be spot on! Technically, he’s right on the money - Technically, technically, technically (as in technically OJ Simpson didn’t murder his ex-wife) – to be more precise; you can only buy into eight ball Sham’s account. If you happen to derive all your known knowledge about Singapore from ONLY corporate and constitutional law!

The problem as I see it is no sane person derives his worldview from such a formal manner (not even undergraduates) - and it’s even arguable such a sterile approach of forming an opinion may make very little sense. Granted that may well be the way robots welders and monkeys who are trained to pick coconuts regularly go about making sense of the known world. But it’s certainly not the best or the way most people go about fleshing out their consciousness.

What eight ball Sham does not seem to understand is a very basic and fundamental human truism – that what actually makes up the set pieces of our worldview of what is and isn’t government (or how many people do you need to change a light bulb) is entirely a function of how we connect the dots based on our experiential knowledge; and not some hyferluting abstraction that can be conveniently explained away with technical smoke & mirrors of the companies act cum constitutional law  - I am sorry, I am just calling a spade a spade; so that counts for fuck all man!  - now armed with this new knowledge:  this should prompt us to return to the original question posed: why do the vast majority of people have so much difficulty in drawing out the lines between the legislature, executive, judiciary and private sector? Coming to think of it: why do we seem to regularly mangle up and confuse SMRT (along with other quasi-gov agencies and the our beloved rag) with the government? Or is it vice-versa? And why do most people seem to ascribe everything ranging from the parting of the red sea, spontaneous combustion, bubonic plague, lost cats to thunderstorms to government ineptitude?  

One big reason for our inability to differentiate the persona of what makes up the government of the day from lets say a public listed firm or whatever- may have something to do with the idea of big government itself – there are really too many set pieces to mention, you could just as well take your pick and run with it - everything from the juggernaut idea of Singapore Inc to the nexus that binds GLC’s to the government is good to go - this hardly requires any elaboration.

As when government becomes big, not only does it dominate the field of vision squeezing out everything else - it also overeaches into every facet of life – from crade to grave -and covers virtually every sphere of humanity: ranging from healthcare, education to the question of when can you can sensibly be expected to retire. And that simply means eventually, the footprint of what represents government becomes so expansive and all encompassing that it’s virtually impossible to effectively distinguish, differentiate and separate the persona of government from many of the set pieces that make up enterprises which we associate with the state - cannot be done means cannot be done!

To illustrate the point – consider the following lightning quiz: is the civil service apolitical? Or is it the alternate name and face of the party politico machinery? What about the police and the security services? And what about GIC and Temasek? How do you reconcile the idea of the MSM with the concept of separation of powers? How much credit does the government get when state run enterprise perform beyond expectation? What is the extend of the nexus and so on and so forth? How are management decisions regularly made? Now I hope you get my general drift – in a nub, things ain’t that simple. They are very very complicated. But what did you really expect when you begin to pile up one thing that has nothing to do with the other and just lump together under one fuzzy abstraction called Singapore Inc?

Now you expect the ordinary man in the street to draw a distinction? You’re kidding me right?

My point here to illustrate not only the degree to which the whole idea of government has become so encrusted with other ideas that the idea of a government where the three heads of the executive, legislature and judiciary (and many argue the state run enterprises) are no longer pertinent – but it’s conceivable when we speak about government in the context of Singapore it may actually include everything that makes up the character of the intra-executive function and much more. As I said, you could just as well tease out the linkages and networks to rubbish the whole idea of a limited government – it doesn’t exist.

Wonder no more – why, when eight ball Sham proclaims to the whole wide world – that the SMRT break in by a few artist has nothing to do with the government – most people (including moir) look at him and wonder why is he speaking in a language that most of us cannot seem to decipher.

I write what I want, when I want and in every manner that I want! I know this stings; but look at it this way: if I am not nice to you tomorrow; I will be nice to you next week.

Darkness 2010

“Gentlemen, you can tranverse 1,000 billion light years all the way from the Cardellian system across the Andullasian belt  to the furthest outpost of the known galaxy, we call district 2,672 – and in every major outpost, every garrison will be flying the tri-color neutral flag that represents the brotherhood - in other words, we have successfully managed to franchize our colonies and dominions by bringing to these locales medicine, irrigation, metal forging, education, sanitation, architecture, statecraft etc - but remember this will always be a double edged sword my Brothers – as it means, when things go well, we will be praised…feted..but…these are illusions.. but…yes, I agree, we can probably use this from time to time to levy more taxes…but I do not believe our luck can run for perpetuity. We have been lucky to call the right numbers – but what of tomorrow? Today it takes 48 (earth hours) for a Tiberrium class mineral cruiser to cross the Carphiains system – next year, it will take 4 minutes and in 5 years perhaps less than 5 seconds  - today, even one of our pro-consuls who may rule over a province the size of Judae and Samaria may need to make only 1 or 2 strategic decisions a week – if he gets it wrong – we can catch the ball in Primus Aldentes Prime – but what of tomorrow Gentlemen? You guess is as good as mine – but I say, go and learn how to catch a bullet with your teeth!  So this brings me to why I have asked the speaker of the house for an extraordinary extension – as, we have to ask ourselves one fundamental question: what if things don’t go so well in the future? What if we make a bad call? What if things become more complex in the future? I hear there are already rumblings in the four houses. It is best if we inch back and return to the shadows whence we came from –  and from now onwards allow the guilds to take the lime light…..they are a foolish lot…so they will jump at this!

Meanwhile, we must slowly exit the scene; in 5 years time, if everything goes as planned, no one will ever remember us; all our emblems, flags and motiffs will return back to the infinity of space…we will be here…but at the same time not here!”

Vollariane 2004

42 Address in the Great Hall during question time / at Primus Aldentes Prime – this excerpt has been captured by an auto-bot crawler from the Book of Ages – source: page 9,038 – under the heading – the strangelands – The brotherhood press 2010

 

Malaysians are pretty hit & miss when it comes to gainfully making progress. But when it comes to managing once in every 50 years freak storms – I think, they are way ahead of us – and perhaps, we should just learn from them. It’s no fun when businesses have to play the yellow submarine every rainy season – and traffic grinds to a standstill – really makes you wonder what happened to all those tax dollars? Wakey, Wakey!

Darkness 2010 – The Brotherhood Press 2010

“You can claim to be the best. You can even pay yourself a big fat salary. But if you do all these things. Then I think, people have everyright to expect nothing less than the gold standard – the question then, is how sustainable is that arrangement?….I think, this is why the wise says, it pays to be humble.”

Darkness 2007 – captured by an auto-bot crawler in the Intelligent Singaporean – The Brotherhood Press 2010

EAM (EMERGENCY ACTION MESSAGE): ORCHARD KENA FLOODED, GO TO THE ONLINE CITIZEN AND CHECK IT OUT!

Recently Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam all got the thumbs down from the U.S. State Department for their “crappy,” efforts to battle the trafficking of human beings for labor and commercial sex.

Three Asian countries were placed on a watch list as well, putting them one level above the worst offenders such as North Korea, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia, the report said. Malaysia was upgraded from the worst ranking, while Cambodia and Pakistan were removed from the watch list.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded in typical el dente style. “It is rather puzzling because the U.S. has not satisfactorily explained how it had arrived at its conclusions.” The Singapore government went on to described the report as more of a “political ritual” than an “objective study.”

What really puzzles me about the puzzled response of the MFA is would they have been puzzled if the subjective report upgraded Singapore?

What I am trying to say here is; since we place so much emphasis on how others may choose to rate us ranging from how competitive we are; to how fast it takes for us to get out of a straight jacket – then why take exception to a negative downgrades? Why not go with the flow?

I mean to me the case is crystal clear - all reports, surveys and ratings (without exception) are essentially subjective and at best anecdotal; so there is no such thing as an objective report -I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT THE MFA IS TALKING ABOUT. AND YES, YOU GUESSED IT. I CAN EVEN PROVE THAT MATHEMATICALLY AS WELL!  An objective survey or rating is like talking about snakes in Scotland! The thing doesn’t exist! You can only agree that there is such a thing as an objective rating – if all participants can agree on what comprises their objects of interest along with how much weightage is to be allocated to a performance indicator. And no survey or rating system operates under those perfect or absolute conditions. It doesn’t exist – not even Moody’s or Standard & Poors can satisfy those unrealistic expectations.

Secondly, I can’t for the life of me figure out - if we can get so worked up about negative ratings – then why is it, whenever we get a positive rating; no one in the public sector ever bothers to take issue with the methodology, the formula, along with questioning whether it is a ritual or motivated by some secret agenda.

What puzzles me no end is how positive ratings are usually milked right up to the hilt by both the government and the state controlled media to showcase how life is beautiful. But when it’s a negative rating, the response goes the other way. Again no explanation is given as to why two different approaches may exist for one given set of conditions.

I mean why not just make up your mind? Tell us once and for all, all ratings are crappy and not worth the paper they are printed on – better still consider them ALL dodgy and not worthy of attribution. That way we could make sense of the world without getting all confused and flustered with causing pain to thinking folk. Then again what is to be gained from cherry picking the outcomes of ratings and surveys (duh…I wonder lah!) - and how does that attitude really differ from a petulant child who simply takes his toy away huffing and puffing, just because he can’t seem to make the rules up as he plays.

Darkness 2010

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Eversince oil from BP’s undersea pipe ruptured and washed ashore in Louisiana – the world has seen all an array of high tech ways to clear up the mess – everything ranging from undersea robots armed with diamond saws to “Top” kill et al.

Recently a blogger revealed while on a visit to Grande Terre, a small island just east of Grand Isle where BP has been trying very hard to keep reporters and snoopers away.

To cut a long story short; this blogger managed to breakk through the security cordon - and what she saw was a curious scene: strewn all across the island were loads of toilet paper all across the seashore.

Is this the latest wonder weapon BP is employing to rid the Louisiana marsh of oil?

Darkness 2010

I don’t like to label people – you could say I’ve a natural aversion to that sort of attitude; because if you really think long and hard about it – the act of labeling someone is not so different from pigeon holing them.

And most of the time, its self serving – when we believe we have a right to call someone X, Y or Z, it doesn’t mean that we have scaled that person’s character correctly. It’s just one of many ways to make you feel comfortable with the decision you have made, along with giving you the necessary justification to treat that person in a way that you believe is “right.”

Label someone as “anti-social” or “socially dysfunctional,” and I guess you could just about justify anything ranging from smashing his head in or treating him like a piece of shit. In my book, it doesn’t mean you have a real “right.” It just means you have managed to successfully confect what you believe to be a legitimate “right,” that isn’t so different how the Nazi’s once believed that they were the master race and everyone else was either a genetic aberration or some freakish fluke of mother nature…Hey! But that didn’t stop the truth from kicking their teeth in and relegating their “right,” to the garbage heap of history.

The same corrosive logic holds true for the ill conceived plan to invade Iraq under the guise of the “right” to freedom – how true was it when Bush declared to the world that all Iraqi’s yearned for freedom? Well that may be true; but what Bush didn’t seem to realize was while it’s palpably true that most human beings certainly aspire towards freedom – in the Iraqi context at least; they don’t seem to want anything to do with the American stripe of freedom – in fact, the stripe of freedom that the average Iraqi aspires towards is closer to an Iranian self styled theocracy that has nothing in common with the Western variant – and there in the nutshell lies the shattered dreams of American adventurism in the Middle East – the long and short of it, like the Nazi’s and perhaps ten other losers of all time, they fucked up big time as they were simply too fixated with the whole idea of labeling people instead of getting right down to pin down the whole business of the truth.

My point is in this day and age – I don’t think it’s possible these days to gainfully make progress on the cheap. Neither does it pay to pursue a policy of reductionism by simplifying events if the imperative is to gain a better understanding into the subject to help us make informed decisions – the real question to me is can we really afford not to understand others in a world that is increasingly getting smaller by the day, hour and minute?

For example let’s take a closer look at the recent case of those monkeys who broke into the SMRT depot and pulled off a “Kilroy was here!” special – many believe this case differs only slightly from the Michael Fay incident; some may not even feel that it differs so much that it even deserves the same treatment. It’s cut and dried, right?

Well I have no comment. Not for the time being at least….because I want to see where the chips are going to fall before I decide to pick a number.

In fact, I’ve changed my mind – I don’t think, it’s a good idea to broach this subject, not yet at least….so I am going to do something really weird here. I am going to clear the table and this whole essay is going to tack a different course from where it was originally heading.

Do bear with me.

I guess before we can even understand why people do the things they do – we really need to invest some time into understanding what makes them tick. As some of you may know I spend a lot of time studying gaming trends – and one of the things that has alway fascinated me is the advent of manga and anime characters who have managed to break out from the virtual format to even take their various forms in the real world.

At times when I stand by and look at these surreal developments I can’t help but feel these people who have invested so much of their time, energy and being into make belief characters are just wasting their life – I mean there was this time – when I came across this kid who spend all his pocket money, free time and was even seriously toying around with the idea of sporting dreadlocks trying to dress up as a character in Final Fantasy. And so what I did was just ask, “Hey, what the fuck is going on here? Why don’t you get yourself a bicycle and sweat it out instead of dressing up in curtains with a big Styrofoam sword. I don’t understand!”

Well that dorky kid looked at me and said, “The reason why you don’t understand is not because you’re smarter or see the world clearer than me, but it’s because you don’t know the philosophy of the Advent Children in Final Fantasy.”

You know it’s not every day that I get intellectually floored by a sixteen year old kid and find myself having to make teeth sucking sounds as I backpedal furiously away  – but what he had to say made perfect sense – it’s true, I had absolutely no inkling about the pantheon of characters that made up the Advent Children genre except maybe what I perceived to be something that I didn’t really understand and had simply labeled it as a product that emerged from the eccentric doldrums of the lunatic fringe. Let alone begin to fathom out what the deeper and darker philosophies might have guided such a movement.

It was only after I had read up on the 30 or so episodes of the trials and tribulations of the Advent Children (somewhere in the plot there’s even a plasma gun totting penguin who wears a top hat) that I realize this was  not just a perversely dull treatise that typically emerges from the run of the mill genre of I kill you and you kill me repertoire ; that what I had before me was an extraordinary and immensely rich tapestry of fiction – that not only opens up different dimensions about how we typically see the world, but may even contain whole ideas that may even have the power to change a person’s life irrevocably – it may seem quirky, but even really banal descriptions – dying sunsets, worlds that only exist in the fringes of our imaginations, that feeling of estrangement and displacement – all these sidles up nicely against a seamless philosophy that’s not only highly imaginative and creative but incredibly fun to marinate in.

And with this new understanding I eventually realize why so many people all round the world identify with these fictional figures –  granted like many of the funny things people choose to do it may not add up to much; then again, that’s because you never bothered to give it the benefit of good light – had you decided the other way; don’t be surprised even the most mundane ideas have the capacity to spread it’s wings and take flight blowing your mind away.

Darkness 2010

“There was this time; when I worked in this car plant in Derby as a section leader. And I don’t think my crew really took a shine to me. The British have this officer and enlisted men class mentality so they are a pretty conservative lot; might not seem that way in London or Manchester, but you need to understand Derby is as traditional an English hamlet as you can possibly get. So there I was the only Chinaman in a British car plant and I didn’t really know what to do.

Firstly, I didn’t really feel that I belonged with management and to them I was probably just another “wog,” so that meant I wasn’t really welcomed in the officer’s mess which were sprawling country clubs where the management boys usually spend their off days playing cricket and drinking gin; neither could I really let my hair down and have a nights out with the boys in the local pub either as we were always told to keep a distance between us and them; so I spent most of my time in my room reading and fantasying about sex.

One day after the third shift when I came back to my company lodgings – I realized that a sub compact car was in my room. I remember it was bright red. I looked at it and I closed the door again thinking that maybe it was the wrong room. But it when I opened the door, there it was again. You’ve got to understand, I didn’t know what was going on then. But what I did know was if this went upstairs – heads would have certainly rolled and it could have been very ugly. And I was a foreigner in a strange land, so that was the last thing I wanted – trouble. So what I did was disassemble the whole car quietly and took it part by part back to the shop floor without telling a single soul.

After that I realized that the attitude of my crew towards me began to change – that invisible line that once separated us had begun to melt away – they didn’t regard me this time as the “guv” anymore; neither was I really one of the lads either – but I think they realized that somewhere in this Chinaman there was a man who may not have been so different from them.  That year my crew went on to win an all expense trip to Japan as we were nominated the most productive assembly team in the British Isle – again, I couldn’t go with them so I pretended to fall sick and the ticket went to one of the lads; as it would have been taboo – officers are not supposed to get too close to their men and I was after all a company man – but the funny thing is till this day; I don’t think that would have all come to past, if I didn’t look the other way with the thingy about the car in my room….and the really funny thing about it is I still don’t get. Maybe I will never get it.”

Darkness 2005 – The Brotherhood Press / this comment has been retrieved from a thread in icered.com in Hong Kong by an auto-bot crawler – recorded by the Chronicler under the Book of Ages – The Brotherhood Press 2010

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What happens when you take a word and make a mountain out of it? I don’t know.

What I do know is words can never ever be substitutes for whole ideals, philosophies and schools of thoughts –matters very little whether it ‘s a word like pragmatic, love or even fuck.

The best that a word can really offer is a vignette ( a point of view) into a way of making sense of the world and never a complete disquisition – take a word too far and it’s like a man trying to sail around the world in a bath tub. It’s just crazy!

I guess one reason why the word pragmatic has such a tenuous hold on our psyche - may have something to do with the idea of how we have been traditionally conditioned to believe if good is to prevail over bad; then it alway has to come at a necessary price – and that sacrifice may range anywhere between having to put up with the life of the battery chicken to working till you die standing – another reason could have something to do with the devaluabtion of primroses, parks and ponds as nothing more than indolent past times that serve no useful function, hardly the stuff of chimney stack, busy bee skyscrapers and things that generally quicken the heart rate of the tax man.  And lastly let’s face it when politicians and corporate leaders speak the language of progress as they often do; it always pays to come across as pragmatic – being pragmatic is the direct opposite of wishy washy, fuzzy wuzzy and just the direct opposite of everything that has to do with the flakey flake school of thought – coming across as pragmatic means you are simply rolling up your sleeves and getting right down and dirty – you could even say it’s cool and sexy to be labeled as a pragmatic person.

But I don’t think being pragmatic necessarily makes anyone more effective, knowledgable or wiser  – that’s like saying everyone who stays in a cave is a geologist – for one it presupposes ONLY by keeping to the tried and tested pragmatic approach can we reliably produce the goody good.

That’s bullshit. Fact is nothing really good has ever emerged from the word pragmatic, except maybe the mediocre, tacky and trite.

If the school of pragmatism really played a preponderant role in shaping society and collective consciousness -  the vast majority of us, would probably limit ourselves to just a staple of self improvement books, documentaries. And most of our weekends would be spent making a beeline to learn about dead politicians (that no one really cares about except those who want us to remember them) hydro electricity plants, nuclear reactors and rubbish recycling plants.

Fact of the matter is this – fashioning oneself as pragmatic is not only downright passe, it’s nothing less then a fucking appelation that simply says – you have passed your sell by date! You cannot compete! And you definitely cannot delight your customers!

Not only does observation suggest the vast majority of people find pragmatism boring and unappealing - it’s even conceivable as a school of thought and state of mind it may actually have as much utility as a horse drawn carriage in an eight lane highway. 

Contrary to popular myth –  fuzzy wuzzy and even wispy frivolous (hey why the fuck do you think so many people read the BP in Ekunaba and PBK? Go figure that mystery out!) may even come up tops when squared off against pragmatism – in the long run don’t be surprise if anything that is the direct opposite of pragmatism comes up the winner – like soft power or for that matter the power of cute that we so often see in anime and manga comics.

I am reminded people will always be impossibly difficult to pin down; for one most us don’t ever want to be seen driving around in boxy cars painted pragmatic grey; live in faceless pragmatic soviet styled housing blocks and probably just get by with a couple of vitamins and suck out veggies and fruits out like pragmatic astronauts – we yearn to be something more than just the guy next door. We want to be individuals. Or at least believe in that ideal.

The really funny thing about die heart adherents of the school of pragmatism is that they are so divorced from the real world they actually believe that’s the only way to define personal and organizational success  – and this naturally leads one to ask.

What type of world will we be left with, if we had only pragmatism?

Well the short answer is a pretty shitty world - for starters, it will be a world where most of us will just be faceless statistics? – a world that is barreling towards the generic instead of the individual – a world where others may even stand in judgement on your character dishing out good and bad points (never gave you any right!) where instead of life assuming a diverse and rich landscape; all that it really offers is the binary world of – you are either switch on or off, successful or a failure, with me or against me – mind you, we may not consciously realize this. But we may have already reached this dystopian end point.

Curiously it’s ONLY when we begin to reject pragmatism as a school of thought and state of mind can we begin to connect with what’s really important and jugular in life – as too often we lose sight of that focus on real lives, real experiences and real living - as politicians and the media always have a vested interest to reduce the complexity of some of life’s most complicated  decisions to one simplistic word – pragmatism -  and this underscores the need to begin reclaiming back what we may once lost to this crappy word that has proliferated like some run away weed – as ultimately, it’s this ongoing process of awakening that remains our last refuge against the corrosive idea everything can be justified and legitimized under the banner of pragmatism (well it cannot) - as what we may be doing is nothing less than perserving the tragic recognition that life will always be a very complex enterprise – and that simply means if the imperative of life is to continue to consecrate new ideas, new thoughtwares and new solutions to meet today’s emerging challenges – what’s required is something bigger, greater and grander than just pragmatism.

As I said there is nothing wrong with being pragmatic – that’s good to go if the challenge is fix that leaky faucet; set right that stay that keeps causing your bicycle chain to skip a beat  -or dodging those pesky car coupon aunties –  only I don’t see how it can ever be the alpha and omega to the extent of even predominating politics along with coloring policies and decisions - that has to be a travesty of reason as it threatens the very idea of all that’s good and beautiful about what mankind has to offer beyond the narrow scope of the word – pragmatic.

Its best if we just regard it as just a word; nothing more or less.

Darkness 2010

“He’s got brains, wit and a barbed repartee to go with it; I’ve give you all that. But that is not nearly half of what’s required to command the respect of the Guilds…they will not listen to this man,

Gentlemen..he is too pragmatic…and that Gentlemen is just a very polite way of saying, this man is souless – there is no soul to his character. I am sorry, if it was any other country – that’s good to go – but 300 over colonies; 217 protectorates and a couple of dominions all adding up to roughly the size of 30 times the Roman Empire! You have to be kidding me gentlemen…Gentlemen, I have no illusions what it takes to control the Guilds – what we need is a psychopath like Stalin with lashings of Metternich who is skilled in the arts of contemporary diplomacy and statecraft – a steel fist in a velvet glove – if we don’t have that…we all go hungry…tell me do you all want to go hungry?  Is that what all of you want?

Maybe, this cat should consider joining the PAP…I have it under the best authority over there, they set the bar so low that it’s welded to the bar stool!

Get it in your heads! Screw it up your ass! I am not about to back a donkey on the Derby. Vollariane possibly…Kadjal a strong yes….Singaporedaddy perhaps…but not him….No way!

You don’t have my buy in! Besides he wouldn’t be able to hold his own in even a tribal sitting – he is no bloody good. He is too pragmatic. And we all know any idiot can do that with admirable skill and ease.”

Darkness 2007 – Vote in the Confederation -47th sitting of the Confederation held in Primus Aldentes Prime – The Chronicler of the Brotherhood – The Brotherhood Press 2010  

 

 

Recently, in an oblique reference, this time to his extravagant income, Joe Singh quipped that nobody is forced to buy his books.

‘I don’t put a gun to your head,’ said Joe Singh – well I’ve got news for you Mr high and mighty Singh. You don’t need to put a gun to someone head anymore than tobacco firms need to threaten a smoker to light up – grow a brain lah!
 
What many people regularly fail to understand is the psychology of engineering consent in mega churches – that’s to say, an organization can some times be so big, influential and overbearing; that by itself is more than enough to solicit compliance – under those crooked conditions, even a one eyed bandit like Joe Singh can very well influence his congregation to do his bidding by leveraging on a host of passive arm twisting techniques – if nothing else, I suspect that is one reliable way to keep Joe Singh living the life of the rich and famous as he drives around in his luxury BMW, travels first class, shops haute couture, impersonates Bob the Builder and lives it up while most of his congregation languishes in semi- poverty – very edifying indeed. Darkness 2010
 
Coming to think of it, why did I even bother with University? Should have started a crooked racket like this from day one – trust me the net is closing in Mr Singh, better hit the hills with your milk bullokart!
 
Yes, you and your believers are definitely new creations – judging from what I’ve seen your brains are all still bubbled wrapped i.e brand new, never ever been used before!  
 
 
“What if I told you that 64 billion years ago an alien space ship orbited our planet. And an alien crapped and flushed the toilet and that space gunk managed to slammed into some pond to spawn life as we know it in our planet….would you believe me?
 
Or maybe, if I told you are made in the perfect image of the creator. Who loved you so much that not only did he not send his one and only son to die for you! And you are highly favored, greatly blessed and a master piece….a new creation….
 
Now which version do you think most people will believe in?
 
There lies the God of delusion!”
 
Darkness 2010

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

If you dig travelogues check the latest out from the brotherhood press – http://dotseng.wordpress.com/2010/03/31/munich-a-diary-of-strange-events/ stand by for the Beunos Aris Travelogue.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz if you see anything suspicious pls inform one of our staff zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz if you see anything suspicious pls inform one of our staff zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz grunt! zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz by the way do you mind holding this torchlight, we just need to vandalize a few carriages zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz have you finished? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz not yet, by the way do you happen to have ladder, we just need to give it a finishing touch zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz help yourself zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz if you see anything suspicious please inform one of our staff zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz burp zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Darkness 2010 – The Brotherhood Press 2010

Hi Darkness

June 8, 2010

Don’t wish to come across as a prude. Just wondering whether you will be interested to join us for laksa along with the Siglap read club Darkness this week at my house?

Do call baby Darkness. You’ve been terribly busy lately. We all miss you all terribly.

Missy Dotty

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If you think long and hard about it – the greatest enemy of the market is rarely ever the market – rather everything centers on basically you! – that’s really the 80% that completes the 20% to give you the 100%.

Granted, it’s pretty hard to stay positive, focused and committed, if everything just seems to spell doom and gloom in flashing neon alphabets.

Fact of the matter is, man is a social animal – that is how we are hardwired, so fear is perfectly natural – don’t fight it, just go with the flow – but if there is anything resembling a solution it has to be found in what I call the perfect killer attitude – firstly, recognize your fear for what it is – I mean don’t confect imaginary bogey’s which have nothing to do with reality – take a long look at it; go around it a few times to size it up; then sit down and list them all out on a piece of paper and ask yourself – how logical is this fear? How does it affect my assumptions? Do I need to tack a different course? If so what’s the pay out? Are there any penalties? Do they square off?

If possible go right into the nucleus of that fear and NEVER TAKE YOUR EYES OFF IT! NEVER!

That’s the mistake most people make – they run here and there looking for assurances from newspapers, television anchors and market pundits and the next thing you know they are so confused, disorientated and beaten up that they just take a wrong turn.

Like I said, understand FEAR for what it is; doing that keeps you on an even keel as when most people around you are losing their marbles usually there is plenty of opportunity – that simply means when the person next to you decides to press the chicken button and opt out – you should never ever do something dumb like follow his cue  – if you can keep your head when others around you are running around like headless chickens the chances are you will probably never ever fall prey to the herd mentality – then again it could very well mean you will be completely wiped out – the key here as I see it is never to be run over by the stampede and to just stick to the discipline – easier said than done when you consider continuing to buy in when most people are cashing out of the market is a bit like trying to catch a falling knife hardly the stuff of inspirational moments.

That’s why when the market gets this nutty, all I really do is walk around all day, pretend to be really busy and do absolutely nothing – don’t even bother taking my phone and if I can help it the market is really the last thing from my bochap mind.

Works for me, hope it works out for you as well. If it gets really bad and you cannot tahan, look on the bright side, you can always press the chicken button.

Darkness 2010

 

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Well if you ask me apart from porn and mail order brides – there is really no compelling reason to pay for anything online these days.

Guess what? Rupert Murdoch, the media tycoon doesn’t think so – this month, he will make his most ambitious gamble yet.

He is trying to set up toll booths round the Times of London and the Sunday Times, two of his British newspapers.

Will Murdoch’s gamble pay off or fall flat? – I don’t really know – what I do know is Murdoch isn’t your run of the mill nut case - no one in the media industry with the possible exception of Johannes Gutenberg has redefined media as much as Murdoch.

But if I had to plumb; it would still have to be uphill to try to start charging for newspapers online.

Firstly, the content in newsprint has in the last decade shifted from the individualistic to the generic – sure, the Financial Times is still a great newspaper with plenty of write up’s that are just astonishing smashing – but the same could be said about the Guardian and Indepedent online – and the best part is they are free! 

Besides, if I really want to know what is happening around the world these days – brand loyalty is not as important getting the latest scoop fast and furious – so whoever comes up with it takes the cake – and I could just as well get it from 10,000 content providers out there, ranging from blogs, commentaries and everything else except newspapers – so what is the big deal about the press?

Secondly traditional ways of gobbling up content has changed dramatically. I guess the same logic holds true for other forms of media as well. For example, haven’t watched TV for over 10 years – do I miss it? Not really as I can really get snippets on the internet.

What about the World cup well could just as well get that from the internet with perhaps a 15 sec delay with a dash of programming effort (who is going to stop me? How can they stop me? When you consider how many thousands privateers are out there ripping and posting content.) – again I see absolutely no point in paying $90 or even a 9 cents premium unless of course you happen to be computer illiterate (in which case, you have no choice, but to pay) – my point is these days; if you try to force the old economics of let’s say a newspaper, televised products or anything into a pay for play scheme, it makes as much sense as trying to monopolizing something as common as the atmosphere – might as well go and sell bottled Himalayan air or somethng – truth is people these days don’t ever have to put with up with the take it or leave it option any longer - they have plenty of choices out there; could well be blogs, aggregators, commentaries and ten million other things. And you can’t stop people from going for what is already on offer – not even the Chinese fire wall can accomplish that feat when you consider the sheer number of people who are required to make the whole idea turn on it’s axis - it’s just crazy – besides judging from what’s really on offer there is never ever going to be a shortage of horses for the courses – but let’s see how Rupert Murdoch’s great experiment pans out, like I said, he has always been a maverick. And judging by this stellar trek record,I wouldn’t be surprise if he manages to pull the whole idea off.

Let’s wait and see.

Darkness 2010 – The Brotherhood Press 2010

 

“We have no plans to promote the Youth Olympics because we have no diplomatic relationship with the YPAP!

If we had a diplomatic relationship then there will be every basis to talk about this matter. But as it is. There is no diplomatic relationship – so how can we even talk about this matter? Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind?

Are you telling me, we have a liaison officer in YPAP? Is that what you are implying?….it is best, if we all just ignore this YOG like the coming and passing of Haley’s comet….it really has nothing to do with us…I see no reason for us to have equity….one day, if they are really interested….they know where to find us…they have always known where to find us…but one thing is for sure….we will never ever go to them first…never…never…that is just lousy negotiation tactics….best to let to come to us like the others…besides we are not beggars, so why are you proposing to make us all into a beggar nation?..Meanwhile as far as I am concerned the YOG is a figment of my imagination and it never happened……for all I care, it might as well be an event that occured somewhere in some distant planet in another time line, involving unicorns and leperchauns…I choose not to care.

Never say… I am difficult…never say that I am not a team player…we were always here from day numero uno…but no effort was made to touch base with us and I cannot see how it is possible to even build something without a foundation… now you see the bitter fruit… and now they will simply have to reap what they once sowed…..long live the brotherhood!”

Darkness 2010 – reply to a question recently in a sitting in the Great Hall in Primus Aldentes Prime – recorded by the chronicler – The Brotherhood Press 2010

(To increase the font size hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +) Language is a highly personal thing (That reminds me, it’s time to get a new wardrobe of leather underwear mine is starting to smell a bit fruity). I can’t for example vent my frustration in standard Mandarin or English (could be due to an acute shortage of swear words referring to one’s mother) – I could if I really tried, I guess; but I am sure something would be lost in the translation – a train of thought; an emotional edge; the sense of spontaneity or maybe I just can’t seem to find the right auditory and visual symbols to convey my thoughts forcefully in any other medium except Cantonese.

I suspect that sense of estrangement and alienation is something that is quite common to most people who have grown out with the duality of having to manage what we usually hear spoken at home and what is usually force fed to us in school – that may be why I’ve never really taken to the whole Speak Mandarin Campaign which I’ve always regarded as nothing other than an insidious attempt to appropriate the “I” in exchange for the faceless, “we; them or us.”

Don’t get me wrong; I understand the need for a common language;  without a lingua franca most of us will be flaying; for starters, we wouldn’t be able to operate our toasters, washing machines and TV’s since most of them these days are manufactured in sweat shop China – only I don’t see why: the whole speak Mandarin campaign has to be premised on a all or nothing basis – where Mandarin is usually promoted at the expense of dialects at every turn and opportunity – frankly speaking it makes no sense to me!

Neither do I buy into the whole idea by setting ourselves on the course of language standardization – this will necessarily be the best way of creating greater cohesion among the ethnic Chinese – that may hold true on a macro level; but on the scale of human relationships within the walls of our own family, friends and neighborhood – I can’t help but feel that sort of simplistic formulaic approach can only subtract and hollow out meaning – besides if the ability to communicate is just based on one’s proficiency in language skills – then why do we still have so much problems with FT’s who come from China? They should have integrated into our society like so many Malaysian FT’s – so this suggest the whole narrative of national integration is at best patchy.

That should provoke us all to ask whether perhaps the whole idea of language encapsulates a broader set of considerations than just the ability to communicate and string a sentence. If anything all the speak Mandarin campaign does is reduce us all to people who can’t seem to vocalize our emotions, feelings and thoughts beyond expressing it in baby binary terms of good and bad, I like and dowan (don’t want etc). Instead of recruiting the entire range of human emotion – and what we will probably end up with is life that is closer to the generic than the individualistic.

One reason why I feel the Government may have gone too far in its endeavor to promote Mandarin may have something to do with how it frequently fails to take into account how so much of our social cultural DNA is already invested in dialects – while no one denies establishing a common language is important and even necessary to facilitate communication  – the same cannot be ONLY said about Hokkien, Teochew, Hakka and Cantonese.

As each of these dialects are not only unique and specific to the community which they belong too, they also share a common purpose that goes beyond just communication – and if I was pressed to pin down what exactly is this other ephemeral quality – it has to be the power to preserve a unique way of seeing and making sense of the known world to that particular community – since there will always be plenty of room for improvisation, ambiguity and interpretations.

Personal beliefs, experiences, and values I am reminded all have an effect on splitting and further sub dividing meaning into ever smaller forms of human experience. The ability of language to evoke strong emotions above and beyond the strict definitions of the words used in the construction of a phrase is part of what makes dialects such a beautiful thing. Since meaning is so colored by personal experience and historicism that makes possible the whole idea of deep spirited conversations and narratives.

This is well evidenced not only in Cantonese, but I suspect most dialects, as well – the perverse effect of the state inspired plan to relegate dialects to the garbage heap of history may well be the elevation of its status in the near future – as it is only when something becomes rare, uncommon and endangered will it be highly sought after by those who will eventually realize that there are simply some thoughts and emotions that can never be articulated in standard Mandarin – and my hope is someday like truffles; Iranian caviar and the Pinot – it too will find a place called home.

Darkness 2010

“When Wong Kar-wai directed the Mood for Love starring Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung; he had a big problem with the ending and he vacillated no end – and part of the reason was because the Mood of Love had to fulfill really unrealistic expectations – here was a period Cantonese movie that had to accommodate the Western ideal of love. That was why Wong eventually settled for a bullshit cut and dried ending and we are left with that feeling that all it was really a paramour about unrequited love. No mystery there. No Da Vinci code.”

“Well I don’t see how you can say that Darkness. As even in the alternate ending Maggie Cheung did say – ngoh im keh tak chor – I have already forgotten about it.”

“That’s precisely my point; in Cantonese when a woman says ngoh im keh tak chor – it doesn’t mean; I have already forgotten about it. It means everything that is the direct opposite of what she just said. That in my opinion would have made a better ending – as there, mystery is furiously a work.”

Darkness 2006

Captured by an auto-bot crawler in a thread in the Intelligent Singaporean – the Brotherhood Press 2010

 

I know…I know…only too well, the whole idea of authenticity has always been one of the mainstays of the brotherhood press; we are after all the ones who regularly keep on howling about authenticity 24/7. Or rather the lack of it of it these days – tell me about it – but recently we had a few overseas visitors in town (namely the evil Guilds) and so we decided to take them all down to Resort World to check out Universal Studios (just thought it would be a nice place to dump them).

Now it goes without saying; universal studios is perhaps the quintessential  mother of fakes on the scale of the pyramids in Luxor – but having said that one should never ever settle for anything less than the real Mc Coy  – ranging from slow food, real holidays to real wine – faking it can sometimes be great fun especially if it’s pulled off with just the right touch of elan and panache – and while there is certainly plenty to be said against fake; there is a great deal to be said in favor of the way Universal Studio has pulled off this caper – if done well, who is to say that fake cannot even manage to fulfill that elusive search for deeper meaning and happiness  – and no one does it better than Universal Studios in Resort World.

The funny thing about authenticity is it hinges entirely on ones perspective of what’s real – in other words, it’s strictly self selecting and entirely subjective. Like most popular concepts these  days, different people have different views about authenticity and many people feel very strongly about their own views.

Some people might assert that an individual is just copping out if he’s prepared to settles for anything less than the real thing – but even the most hardened fans of authenticity will feel challenged if they really take some time off and wander around the scenic quarters in Universal Studios.

I am not kidding when I say that the concepts of “authenticity” and “meaning” can be blurred somewhere between two street lamps – walking down some of these make belief streets one can’t help but feel that old leather familiarity of strolling in Brooklyn in New York on a hot summers day. I mean I realize it’s all plaster of Paris and make belief; but what cannot be discounted is the fake here is not kitsch but something that even manages to do the impossible – by sheer power of sights and sounds transport one completely away from Singapore into the heartland of Americana.

As long as the illusion last, we could just as well decamp from the need to enquire deeper into the major philosophical discussion called existentialism along with how authenticity features in the whole concept of  the meaning of life – I am reminded when fake is juxtaposed on such a mega scale as what Universal Studios has created in Sentosa – it not only has the power to shift one’s perception but can also do inch it’s way without provoking that sinking feeling of chronic anxiety and estrangement  - whenever we are confronted with fakery – when I consider the detailing, artistry and sheer skill that goes into creating something like this – even I am tempted to cut fake some slack and admit that in this case, it’s definitely put up a good case – till of course; the balmy illusion of wandering around Brooklyn comes to an abrupt halt when a Chinese FT pushing a trolley lances my happy bubble – “hey, do you mind checking out the latest 4D results on your iphone?”

Nothing ever last in the realm of illusions…nothing. Having said that; this definitely doesn’t stop the fake from trying and it came pretty close to closing the circle this time…5 stars Resort World!

Darkness 2010

“Gentlemen, Behold! We have a winner here! No doubt about it!”

Darkness 201o

 

 

 

This is an EAM by Aurora your friend ICG (Interspacing Communication Guilds): Pls note that at 7/06/10 @ 2330 GMT  / Ekunaba will be shutting down for a period of 6 hours for routine maintenance – you will still be able to access the main bulletin board / however, like this site, you will not be able to post comments / if you wish to start a lock and key thread, use PBK, your log in password and ID key will be valid during the RMP – Thank You – The Brotherhood Press.

(To increase the font size of this essay – hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +)

One of the perennial struggles between faith and state is not usually found in what religious adherent chooses to believe in – in the grander scheme of things that has to be relatively benign when compared to how they choose to articulate those beliefs in a real world setting – the distinction may appear so fine as to even be non-existent; but that’s ONLY if you can bear out the idea; all differences lie in only the details and these can be negotiated happily away without too much fuss – but one problem with ALL faiths (regardless of their lineage) is most of the tenets which makes up the religious form and content are usually non- negotiable – for starters; they’re couched in terms of either – you’re either with it 100% or not at all; and one reason accounting for the finality of most faiths may have something to do with how they regularly leverage on the worse type of authority –as they implicitly rely on the corrosive power of ONE – this hardly requires any elaboration and the idea goes all the way back to the aphorism - absolute power corrupts and corrupts absolutely! - whether that authority is to be found in ONE infallible leader, ONE interpretation of sacred writings, or ONE method to winnow truth from lies – underscores the corrosive nature of power when it’s reduced to just the power of ONE.

That accounts for why even within one religious denomination be it Christianity, Judaism or Islam there may very well exist many different points of views concerning the thorny subject of enlightenment – as there is no such thing as one timeless, natural and universal version that appeals to all denominations – that simply means church A will in all probability belong to one stripe of religiosity that differentiates it from church B and so on and so forth – that also means religious adherents are likely to adopt partisan like positions to articulate their beliefs.

A corollary of that idea suggest that unlike science or politics, where there may perhaps be many authoritative figures such as like Einstein, Newton, Marx, Smith etc, who may have once occupied pole positions in their respective field in the past century, but for most of us unlike religious adherents these figures are NEVER ever treated as infallible prophets – let alone considered the gold standard of beaconing out the murk in perpetuity.

In the study of science and politics for example; those who respect independence of mind and openness to contradiction – frequently shy away from the cult of veneration and askance is even encouraged to the extent where it is impossible for any single proponent of a theory to command universal deference without at least being challenged to supply a cogent explanation – one reason for the skeptical nature of science is implicit within the understanding of that makes up the geneology of science is the idea that knowledge is always work in process – no one has a monopoly on the truth; as the truth is neither static or fossilized; it’s an organic thing – granted Einstein may still command widespread respect for mooting the subject of relativity; but ask any undergraduate physics major today and the chances are if he really wanted to know more about the theory of relativity – he would probably not even bother reading the seminal papers of Einstein, because today even a college graduate understands the theory of special relativity better than Einstein did.

We have progress. Indeed, in the form in which Einstein once fleshed out his theory; he would probably be considered a waffling academic derelict these days – as despite the great hype and spin sorrounding the persona of Einstein; he was in the trade nothing more than the guy who first started the ball rolling; since then many others have dwelled deeper into the subject of relativity thereby extending its range thus benefiting mankind.

This only goes to illustrate that just as the scientific world has benefitted immensely from the whole idea of decoupling enlightenment with the whole idea of personality – religion too can do with fewer prophets – neither does it pay to venerate any one single religious figure – if anything they should aspire to be nothing more than a humble radio that is duty bound to transmit the word of a supreme being – treating religious leaders as deferential figures who are somehow enlightened or annoited serves no purpose other than the interest of charlatans, hucksters and snake oil peddlers – and that as we know is simply bad teaching and we all know where that road leads too.

Darkness 2010

“There is nothing fundamentally wrong with religion – Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Christianity and even the Hare Krishna movement are all good – don’t believe me go and pick up a copy of the Talmud, Bhavagad Gita or even the Quran and read it from cover to cover – they all advocate peace, tolerance and understanding – the problem lies with these post modernist prophets who regularly interpret the holy text – they are no bloody good – as the Cantonese say, ‘Moh lieu toh!” – (no substance!) Because if they are really good then you will not get people like Osama Bin Laden who believes that all humans should live only one way and all other considerations lie in only the details – if you had good prophets then they would have very little reason to drive around in expensive BMW’s, travel first class or even feel the need to tell us all God asked them to be Bob the builder? – while the vast majority of their congregation are making do with buses, trains and instant noodles – and let me tell you another thing; you don’t have to be anointed either; don’t even need to quote one line of verse; all you have to do is use your brain that God gave you to figure out all of this – it’s all there – that’s why I give no one chutpazh on the cheap; not the pope, not Madoff, not even the Dalai Lama…and if they were all really worth their weight in salt…they would neither insist or ask for such a privilege either…..you have no right.”

Darkness 2010

 

The Joy of Cooking

June 4, 2010

I love to cook. Most of the time; I cook for the boys who make up the brotherhood and the guilds along with all the cooks -  I realize it all sounds quirky; but I enjoy cooking the way some people enjoy polishing their cars on a weekend, making pottery and knitting.  

The whole process of slicing, gutting, splicing and thinning is just incredibly liberating and edifying to me for some strange reason, and it calms me down – there are times when I get carried away and just barge into  my regular che char joint where the owner just happens to be one of my cycling mates (coming to think of it most of the places where I cook are owned by my friends) – and start banging the pots and pans along with making a real mess – coming to think of it most of the restaurants where I eat in – most of the food is whipped by moir.

I think that most people who dine with me for the very first time are usually surprised by the whole dinning experience of going behind the scene where we usually eat on the kitchen counter usually with the chef and his mates, and part and parcel of the excitement involves seeing the whole process before, during and after – it just adds a zing and entirely different dimension to the whole dining experience. 

What I usually do is bath the whole area in candle light; open up a fine bottle of wine and put a knife to the chef to show me his treasure trove and it all takes off from there with the help of my violin, of course.


I hope that one day I can cook for you. If you allow me.

Darkness 2010

PS: Only one problem haven’t figure out how to settle the bill yet; my money doesn’t seem to be good anywhere – that’s a problem.

“I hate the guy; but what can I do now? My wife loves him along with my daughters – did you know that he took us dinning and we spent 4 hours in a kitchen where we had cooks dancing around like Bollywood actors while he played his violin and cooked for us all. It was the most surreal experience I’ve ever had Singaporedaddy as I was there to discuss serious business with Darkness.”

“So did you manage to secure your terms on the behalf of the Confederation?”

“No, as I said, my wife and daughters were taken in by the devil.”

“Why am I not surpirsed to hear this Francoise?”

Conversation between the Liaison officer of the Eastern Balkan trade route Singaporedaddy and a 3rd degree representative from the Confederation – captured by an auto-bot crawler in Ekunaba – The Brotherhood Press 2010.

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