As some of you may already know through the grapevine and courtesy of our beloved rag, the ST, Mr Yaw is embroiled in a sexual controversy – as it stands, there seems to be no information and at this point, it is simply a rumor (so they say lah).

However, if the “rumor” proves to be true (maybe this is a case for agent Scully and Mulder), this naturally raises the question: should Mr Yaw step down as the MP for Hougang in the name of the greater good?

To be perfectly honest with all of you – I really cannot see how WP will be able to keep it’s credibility as an the opposition party intact, if they failed to act decisively on this issue. However what remains curious to me is why even the decision makers in the WP have decided to remain mum over this issue. Perhaps they fear in trying to defend Yaw, this may diminish their very own credibility, because let’s face it, no one wants to be linked to a serial skirt chaser – in summary, its indefensible.

Looking at the broader issue, this should never be confused as a test for Singapore – those who claim it is may not realize that the sexual escapades of politicians have been around since the dawn of man. If anything, this a test for the whole of the internet: How we decide to regard Yaw’s horizontal hobbies, will set the tone for our future political engagement with NOT only the PAP, but also for all social and political actors who are recepients of tax payers monies – what we as netizens must be mindful of is the need to be clear, consistent and coherent in our outlook. Understand this! We cannot have two or three rules for engagement without confusing ourselves and others – this simply means, we need to buy into the idea of ONE rule book for all, irrespective of political lineage if the internet fails to craft a unanimous response as to how, we expect Yaw and the WP to manage this fall out – then it could be said, we run the risk of playing a very confused social political game where we may even run the risk of having differing moral and ethical standards for different parties i.e if it is a PAP MP fucking around, then he is good to game, but if it is the opposition, then he deserves slack along with maybe the right to a private life  – in short one rule for the opposition and another set of rules for the ruling party. Question: is this what you want? A confused internet?

This I shall leave to you, the perceptive reader to decide for yourself.

Besides, I really do not buy into the idea, what one decides to do with one’s private life is a matter that is best left to the parties concerned. That may well be the case, if Mr Yaw works in the private sector as his personal life then will have very little bearing on the public sphere. But since he receives a sizeable salary as a MP paid by taxpayers and happens to be a public figure – he is by default first and foremost a public servant and should never be allowed to hide behind the elemental right to privacy, especially, if his actions threatens to reveal a character flaw that may suggest he may not be suitable for a public role.

Central to the issue is the question of “judgment” of the public office bearer – as how a public servant decides to live his life is not so easily separated from his vocation as a MP i.e if a leader cannot even conduct a simple strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threat analysis before he decides to unzip his pants for a quickie, then how in fucksake can he be expected to act wisely when it comes to deciding on policy issues? Could that be the reason why we don’t usually allow people who regularly break out in tongues when they are stressed to be air traffic controllers – or allow people who regularly hear voices to captain a commercial jetliner – my point is when in comes to public figures, it’s a misconception to believe their private life can be hermetically sealed off from their public roles - both are inseparateable, one of the same reality even as they not only provide insights as to the quality of their judgments, but also the level of their maturity and intellect that allows voters to make an informed decision  – if that person cannot even make a good call with his personal life, how then is he supposed to perform his public duties in a manner that inspires trust and confidence from the voting public?

Again, this is a question that I shall leave to you the perceptive reader.

That in a nutshell is why Mr Yaw should at least have the balls to set the record straight by coming out from his cupboard and clarify this issue to those who have placed their trust in him.

Failing to do so or worse still hoping that the internet will just suffer from a spot of amnesia will just militate against WP and the opposition camp in the long term – as a failure to act decisively to clear the air is likely to create blanks where others are only too happy to exploit to their advantage (and you cannot blame them either, you created perfect conditions for rumors to fester) – coupled to that, WP is a new kid on the block and the last thing they need right now is to come across as a shambolic outfit that’s so out of touch with prevailing sentiments that they are even prepared to support a weak and untrustworthy character who is so childish that he doesn’t even feel the need to set the record right.

As netizens, we would do well to craft our own parameters of what we consider acceptable and unacceptable behavior from politicians – do we want a political sphere where the private and public life of politicians are so well delineated that we end up with characters such as Silvio Berlusconi – best known for his long list of criminal affiliations with the mafiaso. Wonder no more why his famous tagline is, “my private life has nothing whatsoever to do with my performance.” – or do we want to settle for a walking contradiction like Newt Gingrich – a serial skirt chaser who seems to spend more time before the ethics committee than really doing any real work while getting rich from corporate kickbacks. And once again, no guesses what his broken tagline happens to be “my private life has nothing whatsoever to do with my performance!”. Yes, you guessed it,– perhaps Mr Yaw will go down in history as the only politician in Singapore where his tagline also happens to be, “my private life has nothing whatsoever to do with my performance!”

Meanwhile, let’s wait and see – but one thing is certain, unless, we, in the internet set about the business of crafting a clear list of do’s and don’t’s from what we expect from public office bearers – then don’t be surprised one day, if we find ourselves none the wiser whenever sex and tangled sheets revelations reappear again – perhaps when it happens next to a PAP MP, we will all one day exclaim prosaically,

“His private life has nothing to do with his performance…let’s move on.”

You read, you decide and you live with the consequences. As for me, I’ve given my two cents. He should go and if he doesn’t someone should force him to walk the plank – life is very simple, don’t make it more complicated than it is.

Darkness 2012

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“The WP is new. The key word here is “new.” Being new means people generally like to get to know you better. This is natural in politics as it is in business. People are always interested in what you stand for and what are your goals and how do you expect to reach your way points – that means when a new party like WP encounters a crisis – how they respond to it is very important. The serious men of this world will look at this aspect of crisis management. They will gauge how is conflict managed? What are the trade off? Pay out? Penalties? Etc. Serious calculations are performed with one goal – to determine the métier of that party and to see whether they can be entrusted for bigger things. But let us see what they have done, so far – they have kept mum on the issue – even Sylvia Lim has gone off the radar, as for Yaw, he is nowhere in sight – I think, I have seen enough. I think it is very clear to me, these people have absolutely no idea how to manage themselves, let alone others or for that matter craft a coherent strategy how to resolve this issue – one thing can be said from this, this hardly inspires confidence – I think PAP now looks very attractive. I think you can say what you want of them, but one thing they don’t do is hide underneath their beds and pretend that the world is well and fine whenever there is a crisis. We would do well not to ally ourselves with people who cannot manage themselves and others – what if people call us stupid and irresponsible. Then it will be very hard for us to influence others. It will be impossible for us to do serious things. Whatever the internet decides on, one thing is patently clear to me – we need one rule book for all – that means, if this Yaw chap gets away Scott free – so should a PAP MP in future or for that matter any other politician – tell me, is this what you really desire? Don’t think life is so simple whereby you can promulgate double standards and hope to be judged differently from others – that is not possible under the sun of the internet.”

Reading through my daily log entries last year has given me an opportunity to improve this year. I could, of course justify what I was once did with a variety of persuasive reasons – man is after all a thinking animal. I bet he could even justify mass genocide given enough time and incentives. But if the goal is to lead a purpose driven life – then we may all have to buy into one truism – that not only does it pay out naught to be stingy with ourselves by setting unrealistic expectations – but doing so may well imperil us, as the most exhausting thing in life is to be insincere with ourselves.

Day in and day out, we are inundated with images of what it means to be “purpose driven” and “gainfully present of our consciousness.” We compare ourselves with others – we berate ourselves for our “limitations,” in not being able to provide better for our loved ones, we even beat ourselves up by comparing ourselves to others who may seemingly be even more successful than us – not realizing that’s time is limited and it’s a waste to model our life on someone else’s life. In short, a pithy summary of modern life these days can at best be described as one, where we don’t even believe, we deserve kindness – the result: we feel beaten down and exhausted all the time, listless and a sense of spiritual deadness seems to pervade every aspect of our daily existence robbing us of the freshness of what it means to be alive.

I’ve finally realized the importance of being kind to yourself, – that simply means giving way to a greater force. For example, it doesn’t pay to try to fight mother nature, if it rains, its best to sit it out; if the sun hangs high, it’s doesn’t make sense to put in eight hours just because the world believes this definition of work is written somewhere in stone – lexicons, dogma and ideology that we have been scripted about work and how it is supposed to relate to the individual is the main reason why I have not been as productive as I wanted to be last year.

I am not saying, I did not work hard last year – only I wasn’t getting a decent return on my energy and that has to at least provoke thought – why not? If I had to point to one reason – all my life I had been looking for a way to move forward, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory to what I believed it to be, deep down inside me. I wasn’t naïve. I was just lazy and didn’t bother to drill deeper – I wasn’t really looking deep inside myself for answers and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could have answered. It took me a long time and much painful hard knocks of my expectations to reach a realization that the “I” should never be confused with they “we” – “they” – “others” – but myself – being kind to oneself allows every man to reacquaint himself with the idea that he is a unique being and all answers to the questions we may seek in this journey called life resides in all of us, rather than the broader expanse of the world.

Be kind to yourself.

Darkness 2012

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“The greatest thing a man can accomplish in his life is to be his own man and to live under his own terms and not be bothered about what others may say of him – this is the height of self confidence and what it means to live a purpose driven life – you do not need Yahweh, Allah, Buddha or the Hara Krishna to accomplish this feat. All you have to do is to set aside some quiet time everyday and work on your own cadence and speed and trajectory – this I understand is not easy to accomplish these days: where to be nobody but yourself in a world is increasingly difficult in a world which is doing its best, to make you someone else or to sell you the life that you were meant to live, this for a man or for that matter any man to shape his identity must be difficult as he has to fight a constant battle and never stop fighting to keep his identity from being approprioted by the world – the world is adept in forcing it will on the ordinary man, this is does through a multitude of tools and means – given it’s way, it will tell a man, what car he should drive, what height his wife should be and even how many times he should make love etc etc – but I do not think this is my life, it is probably a life that came out from some propaganda poster or the mind of some bent pastor who is out to line his pocket by building a mega mall, if anything it is a counterfeit of life and if you care to look carefully around you, there are many level headed and so called sane people who may even be successful who seem to be everyone, yet nobody to themselves and their loved ones – they are hollow men in the same vein T.S. Eliot once wrote about – the walking dead only, they are wearing Rolex’s and driving V8 cars – but make no mistake, these men are living a lie, so do not emulate them, you are just buying into grief. This is because they have invested in the wrong things and placed their faith in mirages. Never apologize when you are kind to yourself – never even apologize, if it seems that requirement to be kind to yourself even means you come across as selfish and reclusive and difficult at times – finding your way in life means you have to be the CEO of your own corporation – yourself. When you are apologetic and coy in the way you set about discovering your inner self, you apologize for being truthful. You set about assasinating the truth and you end up being somebody else except who you were supposed to be. You are saying to others, “I am so sorry for taking off time to be true to myself.” To live for yourself is not to compare yourselve to others – you may feel that you are just going around in big and small circles – but do not feel dejected – be assured, when you are trully yourself and have discovered your real identity, then it is really only a matter of time before you will race ahead – this realization may take years for some men to discover and even take longer to realize, but if you make it a point to be kind to yourself, then it’s really only a matter of time before everything will just fall nicely into it’s right place and you will begin to live. I envy the man who is kind to himself – he is a free man and that is the heighest expression of what it means to be alive, it is not about getting X number of hits on your blog or being able to retire before 40, it is to live a life, where you know deep down inside you, wherever you go, you go with a true heart – when you do this, you become Buddha, Jesus, Martin Luther King and Gandhi all rolled up into one – your life becomes edifying and everyday that you live, you give others the permission to be free like yourself – be kind to yourself my friends, this is the lesson the land has taught me. Meanwhile, I remain yours Darkness, a student of the tao of the land.”

Darkness 2012

(Excerpt of a thread extracted from Ekunaba)

Being kind to yourself

January 30, 2012

I’ve learnt many things in this one year as a newbie farmer – the first is kindness is a virtue that we should always be mindful of extending to others. The second lesson the land has taught me is, we should be kindest to ourselves first and foremost, and. The final lesson is we should never ever see ourselves or allow others to regard us as self indulgent, slothful or irresponsible whenever we direct kindness inwards into our being.

Even as I write this. I am scanning through the daily entry log in 2011. A theme seems to stand out like a sore thumb – I’ve not been kind to myself. Wonder no more why the first four months of my entries can at best be summarized in Proustian terms of “a litany of woes” along with, “a great diffusion of energy all amounting to very little except the loud bang of a blunderbuss.” That my dear perceptive reader is what happens, when one doesn’t heed the three lessons of the land.

Be kind to yourself. Take a nap. Make a personal call at work. Take an early lunch and be the last back to the office, let someone else pay the bill for once, buy that dress or killer app, play that game and let the night rip, fake a MC, tell Human Resources you think your boss doesn’t appreciate you (trust me, this is the secret to my success), stroll down to the water cooler and for once try to hang around and make small talk, smile at that girl in the short skirt in the MRT (just make sure you’re not in a backpack – we don’t want you coming across as a happy suicide bomber do we?) – eat out – go to for that second scoop of ice cream – just remember, be kind to yourself, that’s the skeleton that makes everything possible including the impossible.

Being stingy with yourself just means you’re going against the grain. May not realize it at first. As you’re steeped in the gyre, like an engine running full steam – that just means you’re going to blow yourself up and take others along with you. Being kind to yourself, being darn right selfish in prioritizing yourself as the FIRST beneficiary of kindness allows you to recharge, it permits you a window of opportunity for deep spirited reflection – to ask yourself: is this the best way to get the job done?

And it is only when we are kindest to ourselves that we can begin to be kindest to our loved one’s, family and friends.

Darkness 2012 

NUS & Yale fall out?

January 29, 2012

vincoli-no-student-freedom-at-nusCheck this essay written by an NUS exchange student from the US. All I can say is the first paragraph sums up the nub of his message nicely – the writer is clearly trying to create a dramatic experience for his readers. The example about being “threatened with arrest” for standing at an airport terminal just for checking a bus schedule is absolutely ridiculous. I bet that claim could easily be rubbished these days with CCTV technology. I’d like to make the simple point that misleading readers by sprinkling anecdotes and vignettes of “how Singapore is really like…” may well deliver a sensational read to most readers – but I really don’t see, how that might validate the contention: Singapore is not a free place.

All in all, I think Singapore has done a wonderful job is opening up in the last 10 years – much of the credit has to go to Vivian Balakrishnan for promulgating the “light touch” policy and I am sure many of it’s rationale has been integrated in tertiary institutions.

I don’t believe things are hunky dory in Singapore yet – there is still plenty of room for improvements in the area of furthering the “freedom” genre – but I am certain, things are not as bad as what the author represented in his essay – if the Yale-NUS collaboration is going to stand a chance of kicking off – then I really think, Americans in general, need to get off their high sanctimonious horse and just take the cue from Nike: just do it. And start this liberal arts institution and play an active part in moving Singapore towards that direction.

These days, it pays naught for Americans to white wash the world with their Disneyland world view, if the goal is to engage the rest of the world on a deep spirited footing – The disastrous Bush administration has shown how gross generalizations has done very little to enhance trust and cooperation.

I realize abandoning the American stereotypical view of everywhere else except America is something that is very difficult for most Americans to do as Americans by nature do not seem to understand that NOT everyone thinks, acts or processes information like them – besides Pax Americana these days is passe. No one is going to listen to another rant of a petulant self appointed moral policeman who is out to make a name for himself in a school magazine.

Grow up boy!

Darkness 2012

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“We should never mix with other expatriates, but we should be aware of what they do – this is what I have noticed about them, they go and drink every Saturday and fuck around with the local women – then from Monday to Friday, they spend their time playing golf, eating hamburgers and watching satellite NBL streams in their respective enclaves – there, they are marinating with their own kind – think about it, they come thousands of miles just to recreate little London, NYC or Paris, then when it’s time to go home – they wonder to themselves, why no one respects them and they know so very little about the country.

Truth of the matter is they are not interested in broadening their minds through experiences. Coming to think of it, you could even say, they never ever left London, NYC or Paris. These people are worse than children. How do they expect to command the respect of the serious men of this world is absolutely beyond me.”

Many years ago, I used to be a Christian – till I figured out, the goal of EVERY church is to enrich it’self. But eversince I returned to the land, one year back ago. It would not be all together wrong to say, even in my intense period of desolation and estrangement. I’ve always felt a calming spirit watching over me. This morning, I offered alms to the good earth and prayed to Kwan Kong, the benefactor of the farmer. All I asked was for good health and peace.

I am happy that I’ve found the god head in my life again.

The Old Farmers Prayer

Time just keeps moving on
Many years have come and gone
But I grow older without regret
My hopes are in what may come yet.

On the farm I work each day
This is where I wish to stay
I watch the seeds each season sprout
From the soil as the plants rise out.

I study Nature and I learn
To know the earth and feel her turn
I love her dearly and all the seasons
For I have learned her secret reasons.

All that will live is in the bosom of earth
She is the loving mother of all birth
But all that lives must pass away
And go back again to her someday.

My life too will pass from Earth
But do not grieve, I say, there will be other birth
When my body is old and all spent
And my soul to heaven has went.

Please compost and spread me on this plain
So my body Mother Earth can claim
That is where I wish to be
Then Nature can nourish new life with me.

So do not for me grieve and weep
I did not leave, I only sleep
I am with the soil here below
Where I can nourish life of beauty and glow.

Here I can help the falling rain
Grow golden fields of ripening grain
From here I can join the winds that blow
And meet the softly falling snow.

Here I can help the sun’s warming light
Grow food for birds of gliding flight
I can be in the beautiful flowers of spring
And in every other lovely thing.

So do not for me weep and cry
I am here,

I do not die

By MALCOLM BECK with ROBERT TATE

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sunset conversations

January 28, 2012

If you happen to be narrow minded, a Christian fundamentalist or just a woman, please move on to the next excellent article and do not read this.

JDAM: “I am tired of arguing with all of you!”

Astroboy: “OK, JDAM since you are so smart at figuring out the intentions of women, let’s just ask Darkness for his opinion.”

Darkness: “Look here boys. Why are we even talking about this? We are in the middle of jungle. Why can’t we talk about power tools or how to make things that don’t blow up, blow up? If you people want to know how it all happened – it’s really very simple. Look what we have here is a 35 year old woman who allegedly slept with those two monkeys to secure contracts.”

JDAM: “See, even Darkness agrees with me, it’s the chicks fault!”

Darkness: “Not quite. There is no right or wrong here JDAM. Can you blame a cobra for hissing before a strike? A hawk from shrieking, once it has decided to go for the kill? It all boils down to human psychology. You see it is like this, once a woman goes over 30, that’s it – it’s really downhill from that point onwards. Every man and woman knows that, except maybe those two monkeys. It matters very little how beautiful she once was – all she really has at age 35 is a residual beauty of her previous self – so what we are dealing with here is a woman who knows that time is not on her side. She’s living on borrowed time – added to that, I suspect she doesn’t know the business process very well – so she’s insecure not only with her looks, but also her capabilities to perform her job. And combine this with the fact, this woman believes beauty is a wonder weapon, she’s accustomed to using beauty as a skeleton key to open doors that cannot be opened – strategically, this is how she sees the world through her Simple Simon brain. Nonetheless, crude as it may be, its an accurate depiction of life. Now put this woman in the same room as a man or for that matter any man who has the power to validate her miserable existence, what do you think will happen. They didn’t stand a chance in hell.”

Harphoon: “What do you mean Darkness – they didn’t stand a chance in hell? Coming to think of it, I actually feel sorry for those poor sods.”

Darkness: “Like I said, she is a woman with a mission. Have you all asked yourself, how did the news leak out? Either way, it’s mission accomplished. Beware of women who have a mission. They’re worse than the Mounties, dead or alive, they will get their man.”

Scholarboy: “Now we know why you only stick to dogs Darkness.”

 

 

Somewhere in the Suriman Trail – The Brotherhood Press 2012

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The Oracle: “From today onwards your name will be Darkness.”

Extracted from the Book of Ages under the Chapter: The Man Called Darkness – Page 2,839 – The Brotherhood Press 2012

Many years ago…..

January 28, 2012

There are two things that you can do when you see a man driving a big car. The first is to curse him for being a capitalist animal and to hurl all sorts of expletives at him. The second is to find out what he has done to be able to accumulate such vast reserves of wealth.

Question: which is the most productive attitude that we should rightly adopt, if we genuinely want to make sense of the world?

This is not an easy question to answer as many of our attitudes concerning money are forged from childhood experiences. I don’t have anything against rich people. In fact, when I was growing up, I had a very rich friend, her name was Sarah. Sarah was very kind to me, she was the only child of a timber baron and I would often visit her house to play the piano. Her mother was also nice and I remembered how she would often take the trouble to fry banana fritters and serve up iced cold orange cordial during the afternoons.

When I went to university, Sarah still kept in touch with me – but by then, I had mixed up with a bunch of poor students who lived in this really old and decrepit house somewhere in Brixton. These people hated the rich, they hated them because their life was hard and I can understand how a young man can learn to hate so completely when he feels the world is tilted dead against him – when you are poor, everything is hard. Even really simple things like making it on time for lectures acquires a laden quality as the poor have to juggle all sorts of challenges day in and day out.

One day during CNY Sarah visited me in this old house. I can still remember the scene clearly. She had brought me some bak kuah. But I was cold and distant to her as I didn’t want her to see where I lived. It was as if an imaginary line had been drawn somewhere in the pavement, where I stood was my world, my beliefs another country even and somewhere where the line merged with hers was a land that I could never hope to gain entry – As I stood there surrounded by the rest of the boys, it never occurred to me that the rich and privilege could just intimidate the poor by just breathing – all I wanted her to do was to go. Leave that good forsaken place.

I never saw Sarah throughout my university days although she was just half an hour’s ride away. You could even say, I could not see her, if I wanted to keep my illusionary world intact – but when I reflect back to the moment of my youth, maybe I was just being childish – petulant- stubborn. Truth of the matter is there was never any divisions between us except that which I had imagined and breathe life into – there was no great battle being waged between the have’s and have not’s, not the type that involved me and Sarah.

When I think back, it was such a waste to have invested so much of my being in hating and finding differences when none actually existed. The irony these days is, I no longer view my estrangement nor the depth of my repugnance for the rich as something that even makes sense.

Darkness 2012
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“When we were all young. We all lived in a big leaky house when we were studying in the UK. There are only two things, I remember about that house. The first is that in 200 days out of 365, there was no electricity or running water. The second was we ate only curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner and we never got bored of it. I was the 7th leader in this house. Every year someone would graduate and we would all look at him like one of those soviet cosmonauts who had managed to break out from the gravity of the earth – he was now free! We all sang.

These days, we are not so young. But it seems, we are still living in a big house. Only this time, the house looks quite nice. I think there are many things, we need to reflect on. I think, there are many useless things, we may need to throw out as well. If I had the power to step into a time machine and go back into that big leaky house again – I think, I would want to speak to all of those angry young men. I think, the first person, I would speak too would be myself. I would tell that young angry man, to seek out similarities instead of differences.

This is life, we all live and learn.”

Darkness

Excerpt of a conversation extracted from a thread in Phi Beta Kappa.

Why do leaders fuck around?

January 27, 2012

Let us start with a very simple question: why do successful men fuck around? Well one reason may have to do with how men are “hard wired.” Men have evolutionary reasons to sleep around. A lot of women roll their eyes when they hear the Darwinian explanation. But from an evolutionary standpoint, it makes perfect sense. The primal drive to reproduce is strong (trust me, I have been in the jungle for a very long time and by now even the cows who come to graze are starting to look very attractive).

The other reason is men are genetically programmed to hunt (my theory accounts for why watches for women are smaller – since women suffer from myopia or tunnel vision, they are usually confined to caves to do sewing and taking care of the kiddies). Men are different, their field of vision is over the horizon – so they are always scanning the landscape for opportunities and threats. Another factor that is seldom discussed is the illicit thrill factor – fucking around is challenging as this is often seen to be the modern equivalent of bringing down a mammoth or dinosaur. Hunting also validates a man, as to do so successfully he needs strategy, social intelligence, interpersonal skills, persistence and plain luck (I find luck very important).

There’s also that “itch” that comes around when a man reaches a certain vintage where he is confronted with his own mortality and yearns to “live on the razor’s edge” again.

Whatever the reasons accounting for why powerful men like to sleep around – it’s a misconception to believe it all boils down to the adage, “boys will be boys.”

The question of “judgment” comes into sharp focus eventually whenever a leader fucks around – you could even argue, one reason why the public is so intolerant of leaders fucking around is because sexual judgment and policy judgment are not so easily segregable i.e if a leader can’t even conduct a simple strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threat analysis before he decides to unzip his pants for a quickie, then how can he be expected to act wisely when it comes to deciding on policy issues? That in a nutshell is why most people expect leaders to exercise self control. As the ability to scale threats accurately is one a pre-requisite for leadership along the capacity to“tahan” reflects self discipline i.e mastery of the self.

Of course the ability to scale threats and opportunities along with the sagacity to “tahan,” by itself, is not a rational basis to justify putting someone in a position of power and responsibility -  but it sure commands lots of respect, as those who overindulge recklessly are usually considered as weak, untrustworthy and good for nothing.

Darkness 2012

“I think men who have affairs were mainly driven by their insecuriti­es – when they were young, they didn’t fuck around, so eventually the vagina can only acquire a mysterious allure like forbidden fruit -  a sort of great mysterious abyss of hidden consciousness like one of those mystical caves you heard hermits retreating into to find enlightenment – then there are those who fuck around because, it’s just a way of proving their manliness – now these people were probably kicked around when they were younger or passed over so many times by girls, so what they are doing now is rewriting history like very frustrated historians who wish to have their version of history read – then there is another type of fucker, he is the man who enjoys the illicit thrill of fucking around. That’s to say, he knows, it’s game over, if he’s caught – nonetheless, he accepts the risk and plays the game – I think, this is a very dangerous man in the foolish sense of the word. As he thinks, he is God. But the really dangerous man that beats them all is what I call the shadow fucker. This fellow is usually an exponent in the art of war – he approaches the whole idea of fucking like a professional assassin – he is cold and meticulous in covering his tracks, making doubly sure that there is no discernible shape or pattern to his dalliances – the entry is usually smooth and clean and the exit strategy impossible to fault like a well lubricated machine – everything is perfection unto itself like the handiwork of a well trained Mossad agent. No trails, no electronic signature, nothing except maybe a faint whiff of suspicion. And even if you should put this man in a room with a one way mirror is cool as a cucumber as he has replayed this scene time and again in his head, so he will probably give his interrogators high blood pressure – but this man is not really a fucker although I have felt it necessary to described him as the shadow fucker – he is simply a very wise man who never ever walks into a place without knowing how to come out smelling like roses. I think it is fair to assume all men have urges that require release; but they should first dedicate themselves to the study of how to perform a thing cleanly and professionally BEFORE living dangerously. This should be common sense, but it is unfortunate that it is still considered as Arcanum by so many. As not knowing this can only mean life will become very complicated for the members of the fuckers club, very complicated indeed. ” 

Quote

January 26, 2012

Quote

(Somewhere along the eternal stretch of the Sardonxy Front during the Ascension Wars)

Harphoon: We have to go now!

Darkness: Where do you expect to go?

Harphoon: I don’t know…anywhere, but here? They are bombing the shit out of us!

Darkness: And where would here be, if it did not look so much like there? No apprentice. This is here where we will put up a stand against the mighty Aryanian army.

Recorded by the Chronicler of the Brotherhood Sar-bat-hat in the Book of Ages, Chapter: The Quickening, Page 7,023 – The Brotherhood Press 2012

Stilling the self

January 26, 2012

Listen to the world around you. Feel your breath coming in and going out. Watch the trajectory of your thoughts. See how they merge with other thoughts and convalesce into other smaller tributaries of thoughts.  

In this modern world of fast, fasterer and fasterest getting things done fast are the default modes, if not with our bodies then at least with our minds, with our attention. We rush around all day, doing things, talking, emailing, sending and reading messages, clicking from browser tab to the next, one link to the next.

We are always on, always connected, always thinking, always talking. There is no time for stillness — and sitting in front of a frenetic computer all day, and then in front of the hyperactive television, doesn’t count as stillness.

This comes at a cost: we lose that time for contemplation, for observing and listening. We lose peace.

And worse yet: all the rushing around is often counterproductive. I know, in our society action is all-important — inaction is seen as lazy and passive and unproductive. However, sometimes too much action is worse than no action at all. You can run around crazily, all sound and fury, but get nothing done. Or you can get a lot done — but nothing important. Or you can hurt things with your actions, make things worse than if you’d stayed still.

And when we are forced to be still — because we’re in line for something, or waiting at a doctor’s appointment, or for a bus, train or friend — we often get restless, and need to find something to do. Some of us will have our mobile devices, others will have a notebook or folder with things to do or read, others will fidgety. Being still I have observed isn’t something we’re used to – that could well be the problem.

Take a moment to think about how you spend your days — at work, after work, getting ready for work, evenings and weekends. Are you constantly rushing around? Are you constantly reading and answering messages, checking on the news and the latest stream of information? Are you always trying to Get Lots of Things Done, ticking off tasks from your list like a machine, rushing through your schedule?

Is this how you want to spend your life?

Darkness 2012

 

“Rushing to do something is a modern day poison. Because when you rush something that means, all you want is to get it over and done with as soon as possible. In other words, what you are doing is not really important. You feel the need to be somewhere else or do something more important. This is the reason why I never carry a mobile phone with me all the time – I only switch it on, between the hours of 12 to 2. I find this is the best way to manage the modern day

Last night, in the State of the Union address, President Obama mentioned his blueprint for a new vision for America begins with manufacturing.

He talked about many things – the revival of the American auto industry and said that what is happening in Detroit can happen anywhere and everywhere in America – he even went to cite since the end of 2009, business investment has grown by a rate of 18 percent, and exports have increased by 32 percent — for a total of $2 trillion. That’s great news for American manufacturing, which has added 334,000 jobs in the past two years. To achieve that vision, the President will focused on three key themes.

Tax reform. Obama told Congress that the U.S. needs to push for comprehensive corporate tax reform. “It is time to stop rewarding businesses that ship jobs overseas,” he said. “And start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in America.” Right now, a company that packs up its factories and relocates production to another country can write off that expense from its taxes. The President said that practice should end.

I don’t deny what Obama seems to be suggesting make perfect sense – if only you didn’t realize that fledging manufacturing output is the least of the problems plaguing a beleaguered American economy.

The main problem why America is fucked has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH CHINA AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH THE STATE OF AFFAIRS IN THE US. America is running the biggest deficit in the history of humanity – to inject a sense of scale into the whole debate, America currently runs a deficit with over 88 countries – to exacerbate matters savings in the US is virtually non –existent. That means interest rates and inflation will remain high and both factors will continue to militate against economic recovery. This in a nutshell is the problem that America faces today, tomorrow and probably ten or twenty years down the line!

Even if Obama proposes a 20 percent income tax credit for companies that bring jobs back to the United States – this is hardly going to make a dent on the already frenetic pace of manufacturing transplants to China – three reasons will ensure China’s primacy as the world’s preferred manufacturing sweat shop. Firstly, the allure of a cheap and non unionized workforce. Secondly, Lackadaisical enforcement of environmental laws and regulations that renders the cost of manufacturing dead cheap. And finally, many of the goods currently produced in China are not only consumed by the US and EU, but rather China itself – combine all these three factors together and what China offers to the world is really something that is hard, if not impossible to top.

As for Obama magic bullet, all I can say is – both he and his advisors clearly suffer from a lack of appreciation for manufacturing strategy and basic mathematics. While what he holds out clearly has all the set pieces of a prescriptive cure, it fails on two counts.

No American firm is going back to relocate back to the US no matter what is on offer. The hard facts about doing businesses in America can at best be described as dismal. There is no longer any advantage in starting manufacturing enterprises in the US. Land is prohibitively expensive, so is infrastructural capital investments and as for compliance requirements that really only works to increase overall cost – added to this problem is my personal belief, the average US worker doesn’t even know the difference between a monkey wrench from a dildo, so how are they going to get a whole generation of Americans who have never ever worked in a production line to even start producing stuff that all of us are supposed to buy is beyond me.

No. Obama dream of revivifying the US economy makes as much sense as throwing out cannon balls to propel a boat forward. I am afraid reality offers a much more sobering outlook – these days, the only thing preventing the US from spiraling into a third world banana republic is its weather. But give it enough time, opportunity and stupid politicians, this may come sooner than later.

Darkness 2012—————————————————————————————————

“The serious men amongst us always say: be careful what you decide to throw away and set aside. We live in a world full of implications and consequences. Today if you look around you, even in Parliament, none of those million dollar ministars can speak properly even with cue cards – that is because Lee Kuan Yew and his gang thought it was a good idea to chuck out the Westminster model. They wanted a kwai kwai Parliament, so now you know why Parliamentary debates are really not much better than sand box politics that you will find in a kindergarden. This is what happens when you throw away something that is valuable, you lose it. The same goes for agriculture. Singapore had a thriving research core competencies in agriculture. One day Philip Yeo declared like Stalin, “There is no agriculture in Singapore.” Today, Singapore does not even have the basic capabilities to ensure food security in a sustainable manner. We can’t even do simple things. Instead we have to rely on the Philipino’s and Malaysians to get advanced tissue strains of oil palm. Gentlemen, it would take us at least 20 years to redevelop the core competencies that we once had. Again this is what happens when stupid people decide to throw good things away. Now the Americans are telling the whole world, they will somehow be able to reclaim back their manufacturing prowess by bringing back jobs to the US. But what they have not asked themselves is a fundamental question: are they any Americans left in the US, who know how to build stuff? Again this is what happens when stupid people decide to throw away a good thing. Life I do not think is so simple Gentlemen.”

Darkness 2012 (this article is written with extensive inputs from the ASDF)

Meeting with the ASDF (the think tank of the Brotherhood) on board the deep space mineral cruiser KDD Tally Manakhan off the Saracenian neutral zone of Ismuzth Bilbao – The Brotherhood Press 2012

Check this out: “In a statement released by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Tuesday evening (24 Jan) to the media, MHA has confirmed that both former Commissioner Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) Mr Peter Benedict Lim Sin Pang and former Director of the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) Mr Ng Boon Gay are currently assisting the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) in its investigations into allegations of “serious personal misconduct”.

The timing couldn’t be worse, just AFTER the great debate on salaries for government high flyers. This revelation more or less rubbishes every single argument forwarded by the government of the day that high salaries is an effective buttress against corruption. Yes, they were all earmarked, they all went through the yellow brick road of the scholarship system and yes, they too are human and it seems fallible and yes, the high pay and status did absolutely fuck all to the whole idea of ensuring only “the very best and most qualified” are allowed to man the reins of power.

Well done, great own goal. Just one question: why wasn’t this tid bit released to the general public BEFORE the debate on ministerial salaries?

Didn’t the public have a right to know prior to the Parliamentary debate on sky high salaries? Whatever the reasons and whoever is responsible, let me just say this: the timming stinks and you should lose your job as well.

Darkness 2012

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“I think if we all wait and do absolutely nothing everything has to finally collapse. It is really only a matter of time. You see, they are their worse enemy. They may not know it now. But as time goes on, all will be revealed. We need not do anything. Nothing is required. Logic will take its natural course and the end will come.”

Darkness 2012 – The Saracenian Seige in Prima Maritima – The Book of Ages, Chapter 2,001 – Page: 10,738 – The Brotherhood Press 2012

Enemies

January 24, 2012

Making enemies is part and parcel of life – just as life without a breathing, eating and shitting is far removed from the idea of living; to suggest that we can all go through life without having to manage our enemies from time to time is at best naïve – whether we wish it or not, enemies will be made, the very moment, we decide to take a firm position on an issue – it matters very little whether, those enemies are in our inner circle or circling like shoal of sharks in the office, church, temple or the various nooks and crannies that makes up the whole idea of what it means for us to be part of a community.
Enemies cannot be avoided. They can however be successfully managed, their efforts to undo us can be blunted and the good news is they can be neutralized.

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be mindful of him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, harass him and give him no rest. If his forces are united, divide them. Attack him when he is least prepared, appear when you are not expected.”
Sun Tzu

Darkness 2012

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“Many people think they when they take a bite out of someone’s arse and just slip away, hopefully everything will be forgotten and forgiven. I do not believe life is that simple. It may take 10, 20 or even 30 years, but if the man you once crossed is a serious man and if he circulates in the company of serious men, then I assure you the accounts will be squared one day when you least expect it, it will come like fire from the heavens, if not in this generation then I guarantee in the next. Time is not an issue with these people, they are ruthless. Perhaps I am old fashioned, but where I once grew up, this was the way politics is conducted. That is why when I have a problem with someone, my advice to them is please come and see me and let us sit down and discuss it over coffee. I have found through the years, this is the best way to resolve conflict. Getting on with your life and pretending as if the matter will just dissolve away magically like gall stones is immature, it is childish as it is woefully hopeful. It is only after ALL options of diplomacy has been exhausted that you should consider the unthinkable. This is life. Anyone who tells you otherwise has never lived before.”

Everyman reaches a stage in life where eventually, he finds himself looking back at the long journey of life – when looking back, some of the experiences stand erect like church spires punching through the landscape – others are less spectacular, resembling a row of fences, rolling hills and meandering country roads – but when one reflects on the past , it’s best not to be nostalgic – I say this as the human mind has a way of forgetting the bad times and at times glossing over the many challenges we may have once encountered. You could say this is the nature of everyman: he is inclined to remember ONLY the good times, even if at one time in his life – those “good” times may not be so good.

Looking back honestly on the past is necessary: If I don’t even know whence I came from, how do I even know where I have ended up. Or for that matter chart a new direction?

But peer as hard as you may into the distant past, one thing will certainly stand tall, the destination that you find yourself in NOW was in part determined by where you once began the journey of life, it is true, I suppose, for all of us. When we first began the journey of life (some many years ago, others not too long ago), many of us were probably young, starry eyed, idealistic and armed only with a few tubes of superglue and duct tape – since we knew very little about ourselves and less about the world, all we really had was a general outline of where the journey of life would lead too. For the vast majority of us – we end up settling for a “compromised existence.” That’s part and parcel of the journey of life, like a man who is accustomed to driving a clap up bone shaker, he soon realizes that superglue and duct tape are often indispensable, if he wants to get to his next waypoint, along with perhaps the reality of having to drive at a sedentary fifty kilometers per hour / any faster and something will either drop off or start to smoke – the same “compromised existence” logic invariably kicks in somewhere in this journey of life, we all have to make compromises with our dreams and aspirations – some more than others, I reckon, but we are all cut from the same cloth. The dentist who believes he is the best settles down to a 9 to 5 existence in a little practice; the young climber who once saw himself scaling Everest in his mind’s eye in the moment of his youth now really cares about how much he can peddle his mountaineering gear to Cash Converter . I am sure, if you look back on your own journey of life, you could just as well drawn your own comparisons between the theory and the reality of having lived X number of years against what you have really accomplished.

But even with the best knowledge that hindsight can offer us to clarify the way forward, it is clear that having experience alone may never be enough, if the goal is to successfully make it somewhere down the line in the future – the future is never clear and those who claim to see it clearest, ALL happen to either trying to sell us something or get us to buy into their dogmatic packages.

Truth is the imagined world can never be translated into the actual world, not even for the likes of Michael Jackson – I bet, he didn’t see himself being snuffed out at 50. Because the truth is once we have left our childhood crèches and started out to make up our lives, armed only with what we have and are, we understand that the real secret is not “there’s no place like home”, but rather that there is no longer any such place called home: except, of course, for the home we have somewhere in our heads surrounded by the many set pieces of our past experiences – here in this dusty darkened interior somewhere in our minds, that we have somehow fashioned from tid tibs of what life washes before the shores of our consciousness is the idea of anywhere and everywhere, except the place from which we began – and it is this place that we often find ourselves retreating too whenever we feel the need to do something unconscionable.

For better or worse, home is here my dear perceptive reader, now, in a universe of a grandeur of which I had no idea at the beginning, at a place somewhere along the journey of life that reaches hopefully into the future like another stretch of winding road – I suddenly realize that I am not alone.
Yesterday, I caught a glimpse of that stranger in mind’s eye during an afternoon walk in that familiar stretch of road called the journey of life – I recognized the lightest of his gait even his carefree demeanor and air of recklessness. There he was standing before me with his hair slicked back attired in a black suit radiating evil.

I asked him, “How long have you followed me?”

The stranger replied,”Old man, you’re losing it. I’ve never left you.”

I pressed on, “Who are you?”

The stranger did not answer – he just looked on from afar pulling on his cigarette as if waiting for me to connect the dots.

Then I realized, it was the Singaporean gangster in London, there he was standing before me with his mischievous smile of sweet victory that said it all – “You have come full circle my friend. I am so proud of you for what you did to that fatty last night.”

The birds were chirping, the leaves rustling ever so gently as the sun began its languorous swan dive into darkness.

Darkness 2012

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Happiness & Grief

January 22, 2012

This is a question that has always preoccupied me, precisely because I don’t know how to answer it satisfactorily – you could even say this is the one question that I will eventually ask you, if we spend enough time together.

What is happiness? Most people seem to be happy: they’re not conscious about it. But I can tell. Others find happiness in the idea of pursuits: “I’m going to get a great husband who loves me too bits, a big home with a well manicured lawn, raise three kids, keep a Doberman as a pet etc etc”. While this keeps them fixated on the whole idea of happiness, they are really like people searching for lost keys: they don’t consciously think: where did I last place my keys? They just keep moving and tearing away till they have found their keys. And when they have found something, off they go looking for the next happiness way point. Eventually, they fall into the illusion that they are making good progress in the journey towards happiness – have to get that discounted shirt or dress that really makes their day. Sometimes, they even manage to get really expensive stuff like a handmade mountain bike or a sexy Italian sports car – and before they know it, everyone of them without a single exception think that the meaning of life resides in these things they have surround themselves with – so eventually they never feel the need to ask the question: what is happiness. Yet, despite all that, they have managed to accumulate what really betrays their insecurities is the idea, they may have invested too much of themselves in chasing the wrong goals – to put it in other words, all they are really doing is pursuing a perfect imitation of happiness without really realizing it.

I don’t really know if everyone is unhappy. I do know that people are always on the move all the time: working to met datelines, raising kiddies, getting serious about aerobics, promising themselves that this year will be different from the last – things will work out this year!

But things NEVER ever work out do they? There is always something that needs reworking or doing over before they can really feel completely satisfied about their lives to really feel happy: the proud owner of a new start up who chases the whole idea of fame and fortune, the cookie cutter who works incessantly to please her boss in the hope of getting more money and opportunities to see the world, the new graduate who wonders how he’s going to make the very best out of his degree after graduation, the journalist who really wanted to tell the truth like the magic sitar, but now has to settle for something less – all these people have one thing in common, they are all moving. And they move all the time!
Even in this party I am attending now – as I sit quietly in one corner writing this on my Ipad – people are streaming in and out like a busy train station, I bet that everyone is so caught up in the whole idea of coming across as successful, no one really bothers to ask: will this add or subtract from my happiness. A tall elegant lady in a Cheong Sam sashays in, she lights a cigarette and throws me a glance – I know they type, I bet she spends her days denying herself like a monk fasting, controlling what she eats, because she thinks the sanctity of her love depends on it – surrendering herself to another bak kuah, will probably mean the end of her happiness. On the far side of the lobby, I see a stylish couple with two children in matching red shirts. They seem lively and even intense happy, but I notice the man is busy tapping his smart phone. Perhaps he is bothered about that deal, maybe he is going through the numbers and just realized, he pitched too low and that might just work against him, how will he continue to be happy, if it doesn’t go through the way he saw it in his minds eye – will he be happy tomorrow? The day after? How is he going to keep his stylish wife in style and their trendy kids looking happy – when all they really want to do is play with my Ipad.

I decide to leaf through some really glossy magazines before lunch is served – the place is filled with high powered people. I should have worn my lucky blue shirt, I muttered beneath my breathe: everybody seems to be throwing their heads back and laughing, everybody seems happy. But since I know how politics is conducted in this segment of society, I know not everyone is happy – a stout woman with a giant necklace of pearls leans over me and ask,“What edition is that, maybe I am in it?”, she looks pensive, when I can’t seem to make out her image from the many group photos in the magazine – I know what she is thinking, “how I hate it, when they don’t publish my photo’s in that magazine, now how am I going to disguise the fact that my husband has had his land raided last year by a strange fellow who everyone in the village calls, the Devil – didn’t my super duper efficient husband send thugs in the dead of night to visit him – didn’t he warn that stranger not to show his face around here – if this continues any longer I never going to have enough money to be a prima donna!”

Then I see the man – my enemy – today is the day that he will eventually know that his estate has been secretly bought up. It happened only just yesterday, in the dead of night around a poker table and all I can really say is the cognac was sweet and clear. Ah, yes, when everyone was happy or pretending to be happy. I don’t have to do anything – there are no thoughts in my head – I am like the wind, here and unseen. I am just a witness.

Perhaps, happiness is like sex, its overrated – I will probably not be happy when the serious men in this party takes this man to a quiet corner and tell him what we have just done – the truth will cut through him like a samurai sword – perhaps, if one of them lacks the resolve, I will have to step in and do the dirty deed – it is CNY after all, red is the order of the day – then again what is happiness, maybe it doesn’t really matter, there are after all so many other things in this world that can make one happiest besides happiness – revenge definitely ranges as one of them.

All I ever wanted was to be a good man, but it seems so difficult, so very difficult.

Darkness 2012

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“Listen to the sound of my voice, you are all foot soldiers – sent here by your motherfuck master to die – do not try to seek me out in this darkness, do not move one inch and continue to listen only to the sound of my voice, if you all want to see your wifes and children again. It is impossible to find me in the dark, I know every blade of grass here and all of you are already dead in my mind. There is no law here, only the law of the jungle – take your wounded now and leave this place – tell your fatty master that the man he has harassed and calls the devil will seize his land soon and chase him out of this place. Come, come use you mentality, you could all be working for me one day. I need men like all of you. Men who even dare to come here in the dead of night. I came in the name of peace, but it seems all you people seem to do is poison my trees and dogs – this cannot continue, one of us has to leave and it shall not be me – go now and never come here again, till I knock on your doors one day to invite you to work for me. Go now! Obey your new master.”

“It is true then what the villages say, the Devil has come to these parts.”

One year ago, somewhere in the Eastern side of the plantation in the middle of the night – The Suriman Tales – The Brotherhood Press 2012

I shared this charming story recounted by Coelhe to a group of aspiring students from the Agronomy faculty today in my plantation during a hearty lunch. It seemed right to do so, as the conversation veered to the realm of FT’s and how THEY are so DIFFERENT to us. Perhaps it’s the residual effects of prolonged isolation – but there are times, when I feel as if the entire internet has been fixed by some evil spell, where instead of finding similarities, all we really seem to do is revel in our differences. Under different circumstances, this might well be a joke. But I know the process of hate only too well – do it often enough and a point will come when the line will simply be rubbed off – that more or less sums up my views concerning why I feel most netizens are simply selling themselves short whenever they decide to take their frustrations out on foreigners. It is easy to generalize, pigeon hole and even label someone as X, Y or Z. But when one naturalizes the whole process till we are so desensitized to the whole idea of alienating others that we don’t even realize it – then what does it really say about what we have to say to others? How do we actually come across to the reader?

Darkness 2012

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We are at the restaurant of a German University. A red haired student, and undeniably German takes her tray and sits down at her table.
She then realizes she has forgotten her cutlery and gets up again to pick it up.

Coming back, she sees with astonishment that a black man, possibly sub-Saharian by his appearance, is sitting there and is eating from her tray.
Straight away, the young woman feels lost and stressed . But immediately changes her thought and presumes that the African is not familiar with European customs concerning private property and privacy.
She also takes into consideration that perhaps he does not have enough money to pay for his meal.

In any case, she decides to sit in front of the guy and to smile at him in a friendly manner.
The African responds with another dazzling smile.
The German girl starts to help herself, –sharing the food with the black man with genuine pleasure and courtesy.
And thus, he took the salad, she ate the soup, both took their share of the stew, one took care of the yoghurt and the other of the piece of fruit,
All this peppered with numerous refined smiles – timid from the man and smoothly, encouraging and kind by the girl -.
They eat up their lunch.
The German girl gets up to get a coffee.
And it is then that she discovers, on the table behind the black man, her coat placed on the back of a chair and her food tray untouched.

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I dedicated this charming story – furthermore an authentic one – to all who are wary of immigrants and consider them as inferior individuals.
To all these people, who with the best of intentions, observe them condescendingly and with paternalism.
It would be better that we free ourselves of prejudices or we run the risk to make a fool of ourselves like the poor German who thought to be at the height of civilisation whilst the African greatly educated, let her eat and share her meal and at the same time was thinking : how mad these Europeans are.

A shift in consciousness is a subtle business, like finger nails and hair, one doesn’t really notice it, till it gets too long – nonetheless, that shift can at times be profound totally altering our behavior and the way, we make sense of stuff. When money becomes the primary focus for a shift in consciousness, it’s easy for anyone to buy into the great lie: prosperity = security =happiness = well being.

Last week I was invited by a fellow scientist to give a guest lecture to a class of aspiring agronomist –during the informal sharing in a cafeteria, one of the students who had not succumbed to my comatose inducing droning asked: whether I had really given much thought to the environment when pursuing scientific farming on a large scale?

Now as far as questions go, this is probably the mother of all perceptive shifts in consciousness questions – as what it attempts to do is challenge many of our assumptions concerning wealth and how we usually think about the whole subject of money – we think that the more money we have the greater our latitude for self emancipation, that belief is responsible for causing many of us to focus exclusively on chasing money – but that idea is also a fallacy, as when we begin to streamline everything in our life just to chase money – what we are inadvertently committing is to treat everything that cannot be monetize as secondary.

Wonder no more why ours is an age of broken fellowships – it stands to reason: there is no money in nourishing relationships any longer. As a consequence, when we are nice to someone, it’s probably because that person is either useful or valuable to serve the goal of chasing money. The same goes for the whole idea of ethics, morality and humanity – since all of these attributes cannot be possibly monetized, they’re really just sound bites that most people are content to pay lip service too without real deep spirited committed – now you know why, the world is so messed up – once we begin to focus only on money, everything else in the foreground and background fades away.

When we consciously make the shift away from money – what we are able to regain is a new prisma of seeing real wealth (if we give ourselves plenty of time). When we consciously make the effort to hold on to this way of seeing the world – we begin to realize the paradox: wealth of life has absolutely nothing to do with money. Coming to terms with this new perceptive shift can bring a deeper sense of peace as we can now view money simply as a means to an end and not as an end by itself. Without the emotional baggage of money, it’s easier to be conscious of making money work for us rather than be used by it – neither can the candy manipulators (get rich pastors are the worse) who regularly use dollars and cents get us to jump through hoops to all the phony prosperity propaganda sell us the quick fix.

Being consciously aware of money for what it really is, rather than what most people think it is, is nothing short of personal empowerment – we become wiser in the choices we make concerning money matters. Most importantly, we keep ourselves in synch with our communities, as money and delusional behavior seem to go hand in hand.

At the end of the lecture, a student jumped in and asked me, what techniques I regularly use to plan a farming strategy. I told the youth, there were real limits to science and technology – and it’s best, if we just come to terms with the idea, that we may not ALWAYS know best – I went on to recount my own personal experience of having farmed for over a year and how at times my over reliance on technology may have contributed to many of the setbacks I’ve encountered last year – and how in some countries, it’s not uncommon for someone with a Phd in agriculture to still seek advice from an old man who lives on top of hill. And the old man who has seen the coming and passing of more seasons than he cares to remember will walk with the scientist to the field, pick up some dirt and by just looking around make pretty decent predictions about the weather, yield, crop etc.

I went on to share with the class – the old man was probably a very observant person. He notices small things and jots them down, including reaction of animals, shapes of clouds, direction of winds, signs that most of us hardly care about. And in his village he is the only one that everyone goes to see when the specter of famine hangs menacingly over the country side.

In truth, there was no old man, I just made up the story in my head – but in my mind’s eye, that’s really how I wish to see myself in 30 or 40 years – an old man who pays attention to little things and hopefully a little wiser for it.

Darkness 2012

The Brotherhood Press 2012

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Sustainability is a word that gets bandied around a lot these days. Everyone and his dog seems to be using that word – politicians use it to convince us that it makes perfect sense to bear the pain of the short term in return for long term benefits, estate agents do the same, only they guarantee the promise of sustainable returns. As for conservationist, they use it in the context of finding a sustainable way to feed the world.

My feel is whenever a word gets popularized, then it probably means somewhere down the line, it’s meaning either watered down or embellished – in some cases, when a word is used again and again, all too often it loses its intrinsic elasticity – take the word, passion and meritocracy – what does it really mean? To be frank, I have absolutely no idea though I have to admit, it used to mean many things once upon a time – but since politicians and corporations hijacked that word, it has been evacuated of all meaning.

That’s why from time to time, I always find it necessary to define a word especially when I find myself struggling to find meaning in it. In my case I would simply define sustainability as growing from strength to strength – sustainability, in the context of farming has to add rather than subtract from the whole equation of financial emancipation and probably include indices such as emotional and spiritual well being –Of course now that I’ve managed to flesh out a few set pieces that make up the word, sustainability. I realize it’s not quite as simple as it seems. Truth is there is always much more than just turning a profit while being able to keep one’s sanity – I am always mindful of the various nuances that makes up the word, sustainability. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact, I am relatively new to commercial farming.

Being new to an enterprise carries with it, it’s own set of baggage. For starters, one is never really certain enough to be really confident. I mean, I have a whole lot of theorems in my head, some that I have successfully used to increase yield and to even improve growing conditions. But every now and then, I still find myself straggling over really simple and mundane stuff that I can’t seem to make sense of. Perhaps it has something to do with the gaps in my knowledge.

These gaps bother me – they vex me, because by nature I am exacting and meticulous – yesterday, I took an opportunity to read some of my earlier entries in my daily log – it seemed as though, I was reading the confessions of another man. A man who was not too sure of himself – It was a foreign sensation, reading one owns thoughts, yet being assaulted by the feeling of alienation at the same time. If I had to mention one theme that kept on repeating itself last year like a broken record, it has to be the whole idea of dealing with loneliness and isolation in a plantation.

Somewhere in my numerous entries, there are also moments of epiphany and little discoveries – the small things, like the shape of clouds and what do they portend – how after a heavy rain, eddies in the river will swirl in the deepest waters – what it means, when the dirt acquires a reddish tinge etc. These small things have a tendency of accumulating and at the end congealing into knowledge that makes the whole idea of sustainability easier to grasp.

I’m not completely sure that I will ever make it to the point where I can just look at the horizon and sniff the air to say for certain whether, it will rain tomorrow or the day after. Or be really assured of success without having to worry about the prospects of failure. What I do know is a large part of sustainability begins first with AWARENESS, many of us are content to go through life skimming the surface of our identities. That is, we don’t truly drill deeply into our thoughts, feelings, ego, insecurities, desires and dreams.

Part of the problem is that we’re always so fixated with sustaining ourselves that we often lose sight of the larger scheme of things such as sustainability. When daily task keep swelling, self-exploration takes a backseat. How can it not, when we dont even set aside some quiet barely time for self-care?

Embracing the idea of sustainability involves taking a closer look at our own thoughts and auditing our actions. It’s looking for the roots of who we are which allows us know where we are going — answers to all the questions we have about ourselves. Nevertheless, despite my haphazard approach, I’m always striving for sustainability along those lines!

Small movements, one step, at a time that’s the first lesson the land teaches the farmer.

Darkness 2012

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I am now in the final stages of completing the restoration of a really old Raleigh bicycle – it’s been more difficult than I had originally anticipated. For starters, none of the tools exist any longer and I’ve had to improvise on a mucho grande scale. In some cases, even fashioning my own tools and making sure that modern materials are suitably matched to blend into the whole restoration – despite the setbacks, I have to say, this has been one of my most satisfying evening projects – partly due to the constant need to touch base with many bicycle cognoscenti’s to seek their advice and the need for me to unlearn many of the things that I have been scripted about engineering.

Not only have I learnt a lot from just speaking to people in the internet. But I’ve also gained a new appreciation of craftsmanship – that’s to say learning more about the philosophy of how things were ONCE built.

It doesn’t take very long to figure out why old things are made to last – they were all built with quality in mind first and foremost; there is no skimping or shortcutting just the honest application of technology to the challenge of creating a great bicycle. Over time, I came to understand that the goal of these craftmen’s who once built these bicycles were set on the deepest level – they weren’t interested in flash in the pan sales or were out to make a killing. The game was much more studied and measured and it was about the art of practice makes perfect . And practice was about trying to do something over and over again, failing and failing, and then finally succeeding somewhere down the future. Practice was about showing up and building bicycles day after day and getting more confidence rather than chasing short term faster, fasterer and fasterest – and if by chance any improvements came, it always did so by way of tiny increments, and then discovering that by the end of the year you had become a better craftsman.

That to me sums up the whole idea of the pursuit of excellence. It isn’t about getting a self improvement book or making sure you attend every enrichment course or for that matter working everynight at the office till everyone has gone home.

IT IS ABOUT THINKING REALLY HARD ABOUT YOUR WORK AND TRYING TO FIND MEANING IN IT. IN THE WAY A MAN YEARNS TO FIND GOD. AND WHY NOT? JESUS, ALLAH, YAHWEH, BUDDHA AND MICKEY MOUSE COULD JUST AS WELL SIT AS COMFORTABLY IN THE SPROCKETS OF A BICYCLE GEAR AS HE DOES IN SOME CAVE, OR ON THE PETALS OF A LOTUS FLOWER.

These days, it’s hard, if not impossible to distill the whole attitude that gives rise to real quality and excellence – it’s hard, because the lifespan of appliances is an issue that really gets under my skin. Thirty years ago you’d buy an appliance and it would last you forever. Twenty years ago you’d buy an appliance and it would last maybe ten years. Now I see often see stuff that only last weeks and months before they fall apart or keel over and die, when you most need them? Unbeknown to many of us, our insatiable appetite for endless choices and variety along with our terminal ambivalence to quality just motivates manufacturers these days to cut corners endlessly. The result is burgeoning landfills, wasted materials, increased hazardous waste – worst of all, we all end up buying more than we really need – that’s because these days, there is no incentive to build quality stuff any longer – the natural common sense assumption these days is, if it’s cheap, it’s probably nasty. If you really want quality, you’ve got to pay for it – that wasn’t the case in the olden days. Take the case of the bicycle I am working on – they weren’t manufactured by a faceless production line of technicians drilling one successive hole after another into steel tubing, as much as one lone craftsman who took great pride in seeing the product from blueprint to finished product – these people knew a lot about quality and they took great pride in their job. They weren’t just making bicycles – they really believed in the idea of churning out machines that could change the world.

These days with the advent of fast, fasterer and fasterest, It’s as though everything is just given a sprinkling of style – stylized eau de cologne in stylized bottles, stylized stationary and stylized phones and stylized coffee. Stylized cupboards filled with stylized clothes in stylized bedrooms in stylized homes with stylized playmates dressed in stylized please fuck me lingerie. Plastic stylized toys for stylized children, who all go to stylized churches on Sunday in stylized cars with their stylish parents in tow to hear their stylized pastors speak sporting stylized Korean haircuts. One has to be really marinating or drowning in style not to get sick of it. It’s the style for style sake that really gets to me whenever I work on my old bicycle.

No real quality doesn’t need to cost more, neither is it rare like diamonds – it just needs someone to roll up their sleeves and kneel down and look at it very carefully to discover it – it’s really as simple as that.

Darkness 2012

It’s sad, very sad indeed. After so much debate, the PAP still can’t get the vast majority of netizens to see their point of view by half. They still cannot get people to buy into their logic, let alone secure a decisive buy in. But why should anyone in their right frame of mind be internally persuaded when the MP’s who are supposed to deeply influence the electorate don’t even bother to prepare their speeches – I am sorry, but that is really how this whole caper is coming across – it’s ironical, as what was supposed to be a move to heal a rift between the government and the people is now slowly, but surely turning into a farce.

To justify the case for sky high salaries and creamy bonuses for MP’s, LHL said:

“My bigger concern is for the long term; for future Cabinets and potential office holders, people who have not yet come in, people who must make that decision and that commitment.”

I’ve listened to all the PAP MPs arguments that their concern is for the country and that good salary is necessary to find good capable people. But all these arguments are at best half baked and seem to miss the salient by a good mile – the facts are hard. They are clear as to suggest many of the concerns regarding sky high ministerial pay is remain a very contentious subject for very sound reasons. Instead of addressing these public concerns in an organized and logical way that is able to effectively persuade the public about the merits of paying out sky high salaries. What the PAP has done instead is to allow a whole lot of MP’s who are simply too lazy, shallow or ineffectual to haphazardly add their two cents in the hope that all their disquisitions will hopefully produce a coherent argument.

As it stands today, the PAP’s position when it comes to ministerial pay is as clear as mud –as for their rational, it too suffers from serious gaps – as judging from what I can make out so far, most the arguments forwarded by the PAP seems to be a rehashed version of what, we have always been told about why sky high wages for elites are not a privilege, but rather a necessity. The reasons are as follows:

(1)There is not enough talent in Singapore. Not everyone can be a MP. As our talent pool is just a puddle.

(2)Singapore is a unique case. It is a special case, like Atlantis, we are very small and vulnerable/ so we need good people to helm the government, just in case a meteorite slams into earth.

(3)If we don’t pay ministers well, then they may succumb to the temptation of corruption.

To the perceptive reader, a few important key points are missing from the debate, the widening income gap, unequal wealth distribution, the pressures brought forth by having to manage a new economic climate where wages are not only stagnating, but in some cases regressing, runaway inflation, the rising cost of living etc etc.

The debate on ministerial salaries has produced a rather depressing impasse where most netizens cannot even comprehend the mission and vision of the PAP. This is in part, due to the overall dullness of many of the justifications forwarded by the PAP to hike ministerial salaries – instead with each successive PAP MP adding their ill-conceived arguments to the already simmering debate – what’s rapidly coming across to the general public is a sort of contrivance that the “truth” isn’t really trashed out at all – as much as it’s overlaid with a veneer of “insistence” to make it more acceptable for public consumption. And that has to be an effrontery to anyone who is interested in quality reasoning. That just makes it all the worse. Now it’s not just depressingly dull, it also comes across as phony. Put the two together and you get a pretty accurate description of everything that is flawed about the PAP when it tries to float the balloon of sky high ministerial pay to a skeptical electorate.

A great opportunity to engage the public in a meaningful way has been squandered, yet again.

Darkness 2012

The Brotherhood Press 2012

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