March 19, 2012
March 19, 2012
The metaphors we use to regularly describe the various things we come across in the great journey of life, says a lot about us and our objects of interest.Tree’s feature prominently in this narrative. Used as metaphors they are able to effectively capture many of our feelings and emotions that we regularly experience in the simple act of living. Trees stand for stability. Someone whose connected to a community is often described as “rooted.” If he tends to the needs to the community, he is called a “grassroot” leader; a dependable friend and colleague is referred to someone who has his feet firmly “planted.” A well run enterprise bears, sweet “fruit.” Even our very form takes it’s cue from trees: the area from our neck to pelvis is our “trunk”; an upright and fair and square fellow is described as a “straight as a bamboo”; whenever people and firms explore a new area or enterprise they are described as “branching out.” People who break away from the mainbody and start their own enterprises are called “splinter” groups and firms that grow naturally are described as “organically” focussed.
One of the greatest joys of life is to be able to be one with the tree – and to find yourself somewhere in the tree of life.
Farmer: I come in the name of peace…my name is Darkness….Darkness of the Brotherhood.
Orpuk (Chieftain): Where do you come from?
Farmer: Look at that stars that make up the belt of the hunter, it points to our home. We come from that planet.
Orpuk: Another mad fucker from the city.m
The Suriman Tales – The Brotherhood Press 2012
March 18, 2012
Perhaps one of the best collaborations with John Coltrane – often immitated, never matched.
March 18, 2012
Recently, architects have deployed tree metaphors in many different settings. At the Kanagawa Institute of Technology in Japan, Junya Ishigami created an elegant “forest” out of slender, white-enameled metal saplings that congregate in clusters and open into clearings of vocational work spaces. In Seville, Spain, a German architect, Jürgen Mayer H., gave definition and shade to the city’s Plaza de la Encarnación with his Metropol Parasol, a lilting, waffled construction of laminated timber.
Such projects follow earlier, very different tree-inspired buildings, like Toyo Ito’s well-known Tod’s, a retail store in Tokyo, and the Mediathèque media library, an exhibition space and cinema in Sendai, Japan, which is so well supported by irregular, hollowed-out, sinuous “trunks” (housing elevators and staircases) that it survived the enormous earthquake last March.
Why should tree metaphors appeal to architects? Why should they be useful, even good, for people? In the Seville project, tree imagery helps construct a distinctive public place that offers shelter and areas to congregate. As under spreading trees, the boundaries defining these spaces are permeable; easy to enter and exit, they offer nature’s spatial freedom yet help people to feel more firmly rooted where they are. And tree metaphors, deployed architecturally, simultaneously lament nature’s absence and symbolically insert its presence.
Tree metaphors also refer to the experience of living in a body on earth. Trees are static, stable objects. Someone connected to a community is “rooted” there; a psychologically sturdy friend’s feet are firmly “planted” on the ground. We use trees to describe human bodies and souls: the area from our neck to pelvis is our “trunk”; someone reliable is “solid as an oak”; someone exploring a new area of inquiry is “branching out.”
Buildings aren’t nature, of course. Tree metaphors like the branching-out facade of Mr. Ito’s Tod’s surprise people. But because the surprise comes along with the implied reassurance of structural integrity (they’re trees, after all), it prompts us to focus on the built environment, perhaps to reconsider its role in our everyday lives.
Architects may also like tree metaphors because a tree’s overall structure is regular, while its fine-grained composition, its tangles of branches, are irregular, an arrangement conducive to the kind of design experimentation offered by new digital technologies.
But the design opportunities that tree metaphors present fail to explain their appearance in such a diverse range of buildings. Trees are familiar. Tree metaphors allow for an architectural inventiveness that stretches people without estranging them.
Trees are just one of the growing number of embodied metaphors used in contemporary architecture: Zaha Hadid builds riverlike spaces, while the Japanese firm Sanaa offers up a habitable mountainscape of a student center at the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland.
March 18, 2012
‘Ring around a tree’, the kindergarden we would love for our kids, by Tezuka Architects
The most recent project by Yui and Takaharu Tezuka is disarmingly simple: a ring around a tree. The architects have returned to the Fuji Kindergarten, one of their most representative works, to add a small volume to the existing kindergarten. Built between the existing main building and the street, the new construction creates spaces for play, foreign language instruction, and provides an area for the children to wait for the school bus. “Ring Around a Tree” becomes an entry that connects the south entrance to the Fuji Kindergarten with the elliptical central space inside the school itself, a playground onto which all classrooms face.
The Japanese Zelkova
The project consists of a wood and transparent glass volume spiraling upward, enveloping a Japanese Zelkova tree. This is not just any tree anywhere, but a Zelkova with a story and the true protagonist of this project. Planted more than 50 years ago, the Zelkova in the Fuji Kindergarten was hit by a typhoon and almost uprooted. The tree dried out completely but recovered despite general disbelief. Older residents of the area remember this Zelkova because it was the only tree to be used by children for climbing and games even before there was a kindergarten. And before the construction of “Ring Around a Tree,” a small tree house had been built in the Zelkova. A “place-playmate” for several generations, as well as temporary shelter from rain and sun for children waiting to go home, in its latest adventure, the Zelkova becomes the natural subject—and living element—around which the Tezuka’s design takes shape.
Liberating the body
The preferred space for teaching preschool children avoids the classical dynamics of frontal lectures. In “Philosophical Investigations,” Ludwig Wittgenstein writes that what children and foreigners have in common is the absence of knowledge of language and a set of codified rules. This leads them—in the first instance—to learn through the senses and the body. To give the children more freedom to move around the school, the directors of the Fuji Kindergarten requested Tezuka to design spaces without furniture: no chairs, desks or lecterns. As a result, “Ring Around a Tree” offers an architecture where there are no measures taken to constrain space, in order to liberate the body.
Non-standard custom space
The space created by Tezuka seems to have just two floors, but for the children the building has six floors with volumes that are one meter high. The compressed spaces, which can only be reached by crawling, further the freedom of movement and ability to use the body as a means of learning.
Elements like railings and handrails are very slender, and almost disappear with a height to depth ratio of 1:40. The interior floors are made of wood and all outdoor areas are covered with soft rubber mats to help cushion the children’s inevitable falls. Children move up and down from all sides, turning this into a narrative architecture of moving images. A visual turbine driven by the energy of childhood and nature.
Architectural projects are usually not given names. But in this case, it has a name, bestowed by the project’s godfather – Peter Cook. A dear friend of Tezuka, Cook was reminded of a children’s song that went:
Ring Around the Rosy
A pocketful of posies
We all fall down!
Ring Around A Tree
Project: Tezuka Architects
Location: Tachikawa, Tokyo, Japan
Area: 146.98 m2
Tree: Why do you continue to hunt us down?
Farmer: I don’t know.
Tree: Can’t we find a way to live side by side?
Farmer: I don’t know.
Tree: What happens when all of you cut us all down?
Farmer: I don’t know.
Tree: When that day comes Farmer, it will be end for us and all of you.
Farmer: Yes, I know.
The Way of the Farmer – “They knoweth not, forgive them” – This popular series has been proudly funded and brought to you by the Interspacing Mercantile Guild – The Brotherhood Press 2012
March 18, 2012
They say the white man is finished these days. They say he is like a drunkard who has lost his ways and it’s really the end of the party. But I do not believe this. I was educated in the West. I have lived with these people and know their ways well – say what you wish of the white man, but he is a resourceful fellow who shouldn’t be underestimated. I understand if this sounds old hat, as when we look at the rise of China and India along with Africa – along with the inexorable shift of money from the West to East and how Europe continues to be stuck in the mud – it is very easy to conclude the West is a waning world power – and that the logical thing to do would be to decamp from everything European and American and to put our chips with the Chinese.
But I do not trust the Chinese. I trust the Indian even less and as for the African let us say in the language of the diplomat, they have plenty of room for improvements – no gentlemen, we should continue to have good relations with the French especially in the Congo – the river that flows from North to South, the Kisangani will be strategic as it will allow us to ship our oil via Mombasa in Kenya via Zambia – these roads are now controlled by the tribesmen under the auspices of the French Foreign Legion. We should also continue to play a double game with the Chinese, as they control the West side of Africa – from Angola we can ship via Pointe Noire and further to the West along the Ivory Coast all the way to Liberia Chinese merchant ships ply the Western sea routes – again this is strategic. But what no one knows is what will happen in the next 6 months in Libya – Chad is currently up in the air, with the Chinese and French supplying arms to factions to restore control over rails and river routes. But despite their best efforts, it is still very much a cowboy route all the way from South to North – if Libya falls, then it is possible that a new rail route will be built from South to North, linking central Africa to the Meditarrenean Sea – this will change everything.
Do you see how complicated it is – we would do well to be Janus faced about this and play both the French and Chinese like courtesans. Either way, if one side wins, we have the option to switch sides. If they both co-exist, then we can continue doing what we do – it is best if we remain neutral and continue to pretend as if we know very little about what is happening as we are just simple farmers. That way we can pick off the scraps of these two giants wherever they decide to do, providing they don’t start a war.
Inform the guilds to move quietly and gather more information on our friends. Where there is war, there is opportunity.
(A secret conversation between the Guilds somewhere in Monrovia in Liberia – The Brotherhood Press 2012)
“Never in my wildest imagination did I know many years ago when we were all playing computer games to grab fictitous planets and monopolize imaginary minerals. What we were actually doing was training to operate in these hostile countries. Today when we are called to do all these things, it comes so naturally to us. We all seem to be in our element as we have trained for over 3,000 years to do this in our game – today we are able to send men to the furtherest reaches of this planet and they do not complain – they get the job done with very little fuss and idle talk. real men who are serious and committed to the mission of feeding the world. It never occured to me when we were all playing the game, many of us will go to university, get married, raise children and even do the things that we are doing now. Never in my wildest imagination did I believe the game will be real, that it could ever have the capacity to jump out of the realm of fiction and say, ‘I am real!’ Now the implausible has happened and all I can do bear witness to it. Long live the Brotherhood!”
I have NEVER been a real fan of multi-tasking. I happen think, its a bullshit word. The type of word that is used to regularly sugar coat something that we wouldn’t have even accepted if we all really knew what it meant. And my reasons are very simple – I don’t believe it is possible to do everything well at the same time and not lose out somewhere on commitment and quality.
Most of the time, its fine to multi-task, as we all know. But when it comes to jugular moments that require nothing but our unreserved PRESENCE. Then I think it best to set aside all the balls we are juggling with and just settle to solve that ONE problem that stands before us.
Being always MINDFUL of when we should press the pause button on multitasking should be part of our daily routine. Yet look around your own family and friends, work colleagues and even generally – whenever we see mom’s negotiating on their phone or iPad’s while trying to rein in their free spirited kids – or a couple who seem to cocooned in their own world of texting to others while being oblivious of each other. These are all VICTIMs who simply don’t know when to press the multi-tasking button – and switch over to deep listening mode.
Technology it seems was designed to make our lives simpler and free us all from the mundane things that we needed to do. Where did it go so wrong?
“People like to deal with ALERT people – you don’t have to be very smart or even bright. You don’t even need to be very handsome or beautiful. You just need to come across as ALERT. That simply means you have to put aside everything in your mind and just focus on the that person before you. You have to be mindful of his body language, the cadence of his breathe, the intonation of his voice along with what he has to say – and when you begin to do this for the very first time. You will begin to know why I said, people like to deal with ALERT people. As till then, you have NEVER really been conscious that alertness is a conscious decision. Like flipping a switch.”
Study and Research this well. This can be applied to dealing with customer complaints, selling magic stones to old pensioners, dealing with foreigners who do not seem to understand basic Singlish. Can also be used to deal with people who regularly stop cars guns at check points along country roads. Can be used for driving across hazardous terrain and the operation of heavy machinery for the first time without instruction manuals. Can also be successfully used to pretend that you are not sleeping underneath your desk during lunch hour – The Way of the Farmer 2012.
I love trees. Spend a lot of time looking at them. There are so many things I can tell you about trees. I wouldn’t even know where to begin – maybe I shouldn’t. Maybe I should just talk about the ghost of my friends – the old trees that I once knew are getting cut down everyday to make way for more buildings, highways or condo’s. It seems no one cares about them anymore – my many friends, the silent sentinels who have all stood there for hundreds of years bearing witness to us humans – it seems my friends are getting fewer and fewer these days.
Good bye my friends travel well.
Many years ago somewhere along a busy street near a school
Tree: You again! The boy who likes to stare at me.
Boy: If I told the rest. You are a talking tree. The headmaster will tell the gardener to cut you down.
Tree: No they wouldn’t silly boy. Trees don’t talk to humans. Except maybe to peculiar boys who keep staring at them – and if you should be silly enough to tell them. They will send you away. No it is best that we keep this our little secret boy. Now run along before someone sees you standing here.
Boy: I will go now, but I will be back again tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and forever.
Tree: No child. They will cut me down one day.
Boy: No, they wouldn’t I will protect you!
Tree: with what boy?
Boy: With my love tree.
(Present day many years after the boy had grown up to be a man, somewhere south west of Nyapidaw known as Sector 17)
Toddler tree: Who am I farmer?
Farmer: You are the child who I was carried by the tree that I once loved.
Toddler: Are you my father?
Farmer: No, I am a witness. The man who values friendship. Now sleep. There is so much growing to do. So much to tell you about your mother.
Extracted from The Way of the Farmer – “The Boy who could speak to trees” – The Brotherhood Press 2012
March 17, 2012
There are times when we find ourselves so invested in what we have committed to see through that we often lose sight of the larger picture in life. This narrowing of our perception about life can often happen when we fail to be mindful of how certain people and events can often cause us to react without really taking into account whether it is wise to even invest so much of ourselves into a goal – it may be chasing money, trying our best to secure a better future for our kids and our loved one’s or maybe we are simply motivate by guilt to do more – whatever the motivation – it often pays dividends to spend some time thinking through our goals – as what we all get by pursuing our goals is not as important as what we eventually become as we journey towards our goals.
When in doubt, press the pause button and reflect deeply. In a world where everyone seems to be in perpetual motion, ONLY the thinker can find a shorter and faster path to the very top. This may not be a page turner, but it’s certainly a life changer. http://www.zpub.com/notes/idle.html
“What is a dangerous man? He is a man who has nothing, but yet everything that you know nothing or very little about. As there are really so many things in this world that you have not bothered to sit down and think long and hard about. Even if you happen to have a file as thick as a telephone directory abt him – my advice is to burn it and start from zero again, as how much of it was deliberately put there to mislead you, huh? - put such a man in a blood tiled room infront of a one way mirror – he will not flinch. He is as comfortable in a mountain top as he is sitting in this place called hell, as home is really in some fortress in his head – again he is in complete control, while all you are really doing is trying to be in control. And should you feel confident and assured, it is because he has placed it there to lull you into a false sense of security to let your guard down, so again you have been checkmated. You are always one step behind him and he is always ahead of your designs. And if you threaten him, all you have done is fallen into his trap. As that is precisely where he wants you to be, in a dark place where you feel so frustrated and angry that things aren’t going to the way you planned it. And should you be stupid enough to put a revolver to his head and threaten him and his family. Do you really believe for one moment he will flinch? Please think! Who the fuck do you think you are dealing with. Use your mentality. Tell me what is life and death? It seems again, these are things you have not bothered to sit down and think about. But this man has and so somewhere in this churning chaos, where your mind smokes like a train trying to get up a hill, he will subdue you and you will be snuffed out like a candle or worse still lose your pension and be disgraced - so tell me, who really is the prisoner and jailer? You or him? You should work sincerely with such a man – reason with him as best you can - set aside your prejudices and pretenses and make him see your point of view intelligently and respectfully - as having such a fellow as one of your friends is always useful in more ways than I can possibly elaborate. Fighting him is futile, as he is already at a different level. And if you happen to make an enemy out of such a man – then your days will be dark and very uncertain. As in this world, there is nothing worse than living in a place where danger seems to lurk every where. This is something your father and mother will never ever tell you – as in all probability, they have never had the fortune or misfortune to come across nothingness in the shape of a man.
Study and research this well. As this applies to most things in life ranging from disarming violent brigands who trespass your land to unreasonable bosses who are impossible to please. To cultivating friends and managing people who expect you to further their causes for peanuts. Can also be used to manage large breeds of killer dogs to do what you want of them.”
Darkness 2012 – The Way of the Farmer – The Brotherhood Press 2012
March 17, 2012
A singular force, attraction-to-equilibrium, underlies the laws of nature, and evokes the process of human thought. Its ultimate expression is perfectly symmetrical static uniformity, a state termed here as “nothingness”.
On a cosmic scale, as the universe redistributes itself evenly through the inexorable pull of entropy, it approaches expanded nothingness. On a macroscopic scale, as matter aggregates into larger and larger bodies until they collapse in upon themselves, the nothingness of compressed uniformity is approached. This tension between infinite cycles of compressed and expanded uniformity endows the universe with its particular form.
“The highest level of warcraft is to subdue your adversary with the power of your mind. To crush him completely with your calmness like a giant invisible steam roller.”
March 17, 2012
Apprentice: I do not care about winning or losing any more. There is no anger or desires in my heart. I am like a lotus on a calm lake - something has changed master.
Master: No, nothing has changed. You have simply become nothingness. You have reached the highest level of warcraft. There is nothing more that I can teach you.
From the way of the Farmer. This popular series has been proudly brought to you by the Brotherhood Press 2012
“It is very hard to get a handle on a man who seems to desire nothing and yet aspires to understand everything – he cannot be corrupted, as money, carnal desires and fame doesn’t seem to exact a hold on him – he cannot be lulled into a false sense of pride and arrogance – his temprement is unchanging like the seasons. Beware of such a man, who can say no to the fucked up and severely confused in the span of time it takes you to empty your bladder - you cannot push his buttons – and even if you do, he will never jump in the way, you expect. it is best to sit down with such a man and be forthright, if you wish to work with him. Running around here and there will only result in you feeling drained and tired. As the mountain does not move.”
The Way of the Farmer 2012
March 16, 2012
Be mindful of how change, changes you.
We all, each and everyone of us like to believe we are in control. In charge of how we process information, winnow truth from lies, prioritize that which is important along with discarding the useless. But how can we be really in control. When we aren’t even AWARE of how the process of change is CHANGING us from the inside out.
As I said in part one of this series. We aren’t really conscious of how change is layering our personality, modulating our behavior and even altering the way we think, all the time.
Wonder no more why whenever people come to money (usually very quickly), it changes them. They suddenly become aware of their self importance. They begin to surround themselves with icons of success. And the catalyst that sets off transformational change can be anything – even sex can change us. We become excited. Do stupid things. And that is only natural, as certain body parts have a mind of their own - my point is you can just as well take your pick on what can CHANGE you, a job promotion, a club membership, committing to a relationship, getting into a prestigious university even something as innocuous as surfing the internet, can change you without you even realizing it. You may read an essay. See others react to it in a certain way. And even buy into that collective belief whilst relegating your right and power to think. That can all happen without you even been conscious of it.
Being mindful of the drivers of change – good, average or bad change is immaterial. What’s important here is MINDFULNESS. It is only when we are AWARE that the forces of change is coursing through us and even altering our worldview that can we can truly begin to audit whether that change is even good or bad somewhere down the future. Being AWARE allows us to question, the direction to which that driver of change is nudging us towards incrementally – and by this simple act of just being MINDFUL. We can restore control back into our often rudderless life. A life till now that seems to be like the life story of a driftwood – we are moving, yet we know not where we go.
Start slowly, don’t force your mind to get results immediately. It doesn’t work that way – just be mindful hour by hour, day by day, week by week and you begin to see – and that’s really the cue for you to say, “Yes, this can change me (better or for worse), I better be careful of it.”
Knowing is 50% of the battle won, the rest is putting it all into action.
Darkness 2012 – The Way of the Farmer – The Brotherhood Press 2012
“The hardest crop to grow is a human life in a churning sea of change – for how will this tree turn out? What types of fruits will it produce? Will they be sweet. Or bitter perhaps. It is hard to say, UNLESS you know what can either nourish or dwarf it. Nature needs to nurtured my friend – that’s the secret recipe that brings the best or worst out of people. And knowing what drives these CHANGE is something that one would do well to busy oneself with – and a good place to start before you even aspire to save people and planet. May well be to save yourself from probably yourself and your loved ones – as how can a man even begin to change the world, when he is marooned and lost in that large swathe of geography called the self? Be ALWAYS mindful of how change, changes you and everything around you – it is the greatest Chi of nature. Only a fool fights against it – it is best to go with the flow.”
The Way of the Farmer – 2012
March 15, 2012
Everything changes. Some things may get better or worse with the chastening passage of time. But the constant remains CHANGE it’self. Most of the time, we aren’t conscious that we are changing. As usually change occurs incrementally most of the time. But what happens if we aren’t even conscious where or even why we are changing towards a particular direction. When that happens, we begin to lose our bearings – the once familiar seems suddenly so very alien – even the familiar does seem familiar either. And this state of confusion can only spiral to anger – anger leads to suffering. Wonder no more why so many people feel so insecure about keeping their jobs these days. Or how do they cope with the rising cost of living that seems to outstrip salaries? How are they going to have enough money to retire, put their kids through college, go round the world and retire and die with dignity.
To ask these question like kneading prayer beads over and again has to be one of the highest forms of SUFFERING. And why do we all continue to suffer?
The answer is simple, we are all clinging to PERMANENCE. Whether we are conscious of this or not does not alter the fact, we are all drawn to the idea of permanence on a primal level, that accounts for mankind’s obsession with things that are ever lasting. The key word here is ‘ever’ and if possible ‘ever and ever.’ Who after all could turn down everlasting love even on a wet muggy day? Who (Ok lah don’t include those two metric tons internal beauties lah) Or who would lelong (sell) away EVER lasting health, wealth and prosperity? My point is to highlight how each and every single one of us, is programmed to seek out or at least gravitate towards the whole idea of PERMANENCE. You could even say, mankind’s continued allure to the whole idea of the unchanging has permeated his existence to such an extent that even today, it colors the way we all set goals, make sense of the future right down to deciding whether we should buy the new iPad or wait for iPad 4. As even those who are perpetually changing by getting the latest, fastest and betterest are chasing the idea of permanence by wanting to be in the moment.
But nothing is permanent in this world – and if it appeared unchanging in the past, it might as well be on the moon. As today CHANGE has sharpened considerably with globalization – it has never been sharper before in the entire timeline of human history. Ours is the timeline of what I can only describe as the giving way generation – those who saw the written word die only to be reborn again in digital format, to take part in globalization where we ourselves become the very matter which makes up this great human experiment. All these things and much more, such as whether China will implode economically, along with whether Hougang will be a separatist state circa 2016 are up in the air.
When we understand there is no such thing as permanence as either a school of thought, state of mind or even an idea – then all is rendered clear. We should not cling to it any longer and simply go with the flow.
Darkness 2012 – The Way of the Farmer brought to you by the Brotherhood Press 2012.
Those who believe money can’t buy everything there is to buy simply don’t know where to shop. Everything has a price. Don’t believe me, go and ask PAP as recently even MOE true the spirit of money makes uniquely Singapore go round, is set to roll out a plan to pay kids for good behavior.
Personally, I don’t have any hang up’s about featuring a monetary system to reward good behavior in schools. The problem as I see it isn’t the corrosive effects of money per se – rather the real concern seems to be lack of faith whenever money is seen to play a central role in any solution. To understand why many of us have an aversion to money – be it paying out millions to politicians or even why there is so much aghast about MOE’s latest strategy to reward kids with money for good behavior – all this nervous energy and anxiety is a throwback from the financial crisis. That event really underscored a widespread sense (real or imagine) that markets have become detached from ethics and morality, and that we need to somehow distance ourselves from being tainted by the simisai of money.
While no one denies ethical and moral failings contributed in part to market melt downs, which led to unmitigated greed along with irresponsible risk-taking – I am not convinced the solution that will solve our woes is to deny the importance of money. Or worse still distancing ourselves by default from the whole idea of money, by associating it with everything that is bad in our society – if we are to make sense of our love and hate relationship with money – we may need to take a closer look at how money has already encroached into our personal spaces without us even realizing it.
Consider the reach of subliminal commercial advertising into schools especially fast food firms, from program sponsors; the blurred boundaries, within journalism, between news and advertising.
This should prompt us to ask: why are we even worrying about MOE’s pay for good behavior when we are already moving towards a society in which everything is up for sale?
One is about inequality, the other about corruption. First, consider inequality. In a society where everything is up for sale, including good behavior, what invariably happens is a class system will begin to take shape in our schools. That has to be sad, as one of the things about kids is that they aren’t really conscious of the power of money and it’s arguable that’s one reason why they don’t seem to have any hang up’s about sitting on the floor of trains, going around in clothes that should be buried in some toxic site or even inviting their friends whose parents may be trying to buy a HDB flat on a $1,000 salary for a sleep in during the weekend – with MOE’s plan to introduce money into the whole equation of schooling, what is likely to happen is kids can ONLY become progressively AWARE of money along with the politics & power of money – and what will happen is, they will begin to emulate many of the bad habits that we so often see in the corporate and political world. In other words, we are inadvertently corrupting their innocence and short circuiting their innate ability to make sense of the world.
The second reason we should hesitate to put everything up for sale is not about inequality and fairness but about the corrosive effects of putting a price on the good things in life.
Paying kids for good behavior might get them to guide the blind in zebra crossings or helping out, but it might also teach them to be ONLY civic minded and kind to people and animals, IF there is a reward and recognition in place – like Pablo’s dog, when that incentive is taken away, then what will happen is, that act of kindness becomes a chore rather than a source of intrinsic source of personal satisfaction.
That should prompt many to question the issue of sustainability in MOE’s grand plan to pay for good behavior in schools.
In summary when we decide that certain goods may be bought and sold, we decide, at least implicitly, that it is appropriate to treat them as commodities, as instruments of profit and use. But not all human acts can be easily classified or even valued in this way. Some of the best things in life run the risk of being degraded if turned into mere commodities. Saying NO to paying kids for good behavior may not mean a lot, but in the larger scheme of thing that would at least make us acutely aware of how money has been like some alien weed that has overreached and taken over so many parts of our life, from politics, to relationships and now it seems even to the innocence of childhood.
This has to be sad, very sad indeed.
“We send our kids to the best schools. We even dole out money to make sure they go for piano classes along with regularly attending enrichment courses – all these things we do, so that they will have a decent start in life. We tell them to work hard and be on the level and to always honor their words. But yet we are not conscious of how we regularly behave in front of them – we bitch about our bosses and family members. We even do stupid things like play hide and seek with the parking meter auntie brigade by coming up with ever inventive excuses why we are not putting up car coupons – we even push and shove just so we can get ahead of a queu or get that frebbie – all these things we do without really realizing – they will see, learn and one day, they will be mirror our character, the good, bad and ugly.
A wise farmer is always mindful of his words and deeds. When a tree is young is it is important to ensure that it is rooted properly. In farming this is called the foundation – without a strong root system, there is no way in which a tree can grow strong and tall. Later on in life, it will be brought down by a storm or a flood – if that happens that is because the farmer has not bothered with building a solid foundation. This is the reason why the seers say, when raising a family, treat it as if you are frying a small fish. To put it another way, as the head of the family, you are not so different from a farmer – you should always be mindful of what is good and bad, nourishing and disabling etc. But the one thing that you should always remember is you are not the creator, only the custodian.
Whenever you see someone who is bengkok, the chances are he probably didn’t have a very good grounding or foundation in life. That is sad, as what will happen is that young person will probably end up like a pin ball and get bounced by the hard knocks from the university of life – by the time he realizes it, it’s may be too late to change. That is why when you find yourself doing or thinking stupid things. Press the pause button and follow those thoughts to their origins, usually it is to be found in the dark recesses of the past – correct them and in this way, even if you are bengkok (bent) – you will be able to right yourself and join the rest of your brothers to grow into a strong and productive palm.”
Research this well – this applies to raising children, ridding your wife of bad habits, dealing with grumbling in laws and quarrelsome relatives, psychotic office workers along with disarming violent people in car parks. Can also be used to make sure your potted plants in the void deck doesn’t cause a nuisance to your neighbors.
The Way of the Farmer – The Brotherhood Press – “it all goes back to your childhood” 2012
March 14, 2012
THIS IS A NOTIFICATION TO SINGAPOREDAILY, A SHITTY AGGREGATOR THAT I HAVE NO INTENTION OF HAVING ANY DEALINGS WITH.
PLEASE DO NOT AGGREGATE ANY MATERIAL HERE (tolong!) UNLESS I GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO DO SO, I DO NOT DEAL WITH SEVERELY CONFUSED AND FUCK UP OUTFITS!
DARKNESS 2012. PLS DO NOT TAKE THIS PERSONALLY, IT IS STRICTLY BUSINESS! NOW BACK TO THE ESSAY
The cantonese consider a great man to be “tai fong,” it means to be big hearted and having the wisdom to be able to stand back and see the bigger picture to do the right thing. The direct opposite of being petty, calculative, scheming and small minded. This is the definition of what it means to be a great leader in the Chinese sense.
But when all a leader can do is busy himself on how to make a mountain out of a molehill whilst disregarding the urgent need of stewardship to look after a constituency, then it is really only a matter of time before many will begin to ask, does this chap even know why he was elected to the highest post in the land? Does he have the right stuff for the job? Have we made a mistake perhaps? As time goes by, this can only lead to ever increasing levels of confusion and speculation and many will even begin to lose faith in the system. And when this happens there can only be resentment and dissatisfaction and it will fester in earnest. Given enough time, the attitudes of many may even begin to harden and fossilized and that impression will simply be the name and face of the leader. When that happens the leader is no good as it is very difficult for one to lead effectively when everyone despises him.
Being “Tai Fong” is not a matter of choice in politics. You could even say it is the most important characteristic that distinguishes the leader from the follower, as real statecraft FIRST requires serving the people – it should NEVER be confused with winning or losing, perpetuating the party political hegemony or mythologizing the personality cult of the ruling class or family.
As the big hearted leader is always mindful of his nemesis – when one is petty and small hearted, it is possible to win ALL the battles, yet lose the war.
In the Vietnam war during the 60′s the Americans accomplished just that with their small mindedness and pettiness, despite vanquishing the Vietcong in every battle, they still managed to do the impossible by losing the war as they never once saw the wisdom of cultivating good will with the Vietnamese. It was not unusual for GI’s to commit war crimes along with indiscriminate killings of the innocent – whereas, the Vietcong would often go the extra mile to win over farmers by treating them with respect. As they must have realized, it is not enough to just win in the battlefield with superior weaponry. If anything it is to win with by consistently forwarding good values that foster trust and belief, that the system works for the benefit of the people, as the highground has always been and will always remain – the hearts and minds. The rest are mere illusions that the big hearted man has very little time for. This is what it means to be “Tai Fong.”
After all what is the point of reclaiming Hougang only to lose the whole of Singapore by being small hearted, petty and calculating. Who in their right frame of mind would entrust power to someone or a hegemony that doesn’t even understand, the importance of being fair and correct?
“The wise farmer always looks to the bamboo tree as his greatest teacher and benefactor - the bamboo tree occupies a special place in the heart of every farmer. As it symbolizes all the attributes that he should aspire towards in his brief lifetime – uprightness, manliness, correctness and humility.
In the ancient times, it was not unusual for scholars and men who showed an uncommon trait for correctness to be accorded the title of Junzi - Gradually, this term evolved to “tai yan” big man and “Tai Fong” big hearted man. When one observes the bamboo tree carefully, it is easy to see why the ancients considered it such an apt metaphor for living a purpose driven life – The form of the bamboo embodies the metaphor of the classical Chinese gentleman. He is both Yin and Yang, firm and upright yet accommodating and flexible, it is the perfect balance of grace and strength. When the bamboo grows older, it will begin to flex as if bowing, again this is to symbolize that with wealth, power and influence comes responsibility, understanding and humility, with this in mind, the man will be reminded of correctness of conduct by keeping to the covenants of brotherhood – to always be on the level, to be fair and square and never to over step the boundary that heaven and earth has imposed upon him. Bamboo also pays homage to leading a simple life. As the bamboo tree produces neither flowers nor fruit. The hollow trunk speaks of the empty mind, a perfect state where the ego is absent without the stuffing of arrogance, pride, greed and bad teachings. If one examines carefully a bamboo tree, one will notice that the young branches at the top of the bamboo trunk will not grow at the same angle as the older branches below it, in order to allow sunlight to reach their elders first. Such a spirit reflects the ultimate secret knowledge of brotherhood – the magic symmetry that makes perfect harmony possible, the young should respect their elders and the old for their part must ALWAYS care and protect the young, weak and stupid. So in a farming community, the highest compliment that a man can give to another is to say, he is a good man, like a bamboo tree (this is usually done, by presenting the man with a two bamboo leafs crossed to make the character “Anh” which means “deep peace” - when a person reaches this position he is considered “Tai Fong,” it is the highest expression of what it means to be the awaken, as he can be relied ALWAYS to do the correct thing.
One should always aspire to embody the spirit of the bamboo in every community that you find yourself in. It matters little whether you have been posted to Malaysia, Burma or even to Nigeria - to be like the bamboo is to be a man who everyone respects and listens too in every community. He is the magistrate and custodian who represents the way of the land – to resolve issues of law and ownership go to the bamboo man as there is usually no law in the countryside. Search out for the bamboo persons in your life, make them your family, cultivate their friendship and learn their ways and with time, even if you are bengkok (bent), you will be upright and moral in your dealings with your fellow man, as their good habits will rub off on you. And in this way, even a “fei yan” (wish washy person) can aspire to greatness.
Research and study this well as this applies to rising to positions of power and influence in your community, dealing with egoistic and power crazy people and dictators along with fathoming their nefarious designs – it can also be used to siam (avoid) IT spitting Cobra Cecilia type women who can ruin the lifes of ordinary men – can also be used to set up a scaffolding that can withstand strong wind gales and storm.
The Way of the Farmer – “Why Bamboo is the first and last teacher of man.”
March 13, 2012
THIS IS A NOTIFICATION TO SINGAPOREDAILY, A SHITTY AGGREGATOR THAT I HAVE NO INTENTION OF HAVING ANY DEALINGS WITH.
PLEASE DO NOT AGGREGATE ANY MATERIAL HERE UNLESS I GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO DO SO, I DO NOT DEAL WITH SEVERELY CONFUSED AND FUCK UP OUTFITS!
DARKNESS 2012. PLS DO NOT TAKE THIS PERSONALLY, IT IS STRICTLY BUSINESS! NOW BACK TO THE ESSAY
The Online Citizen recently highlighted the plight of these parents [Petition by parents of children with autism- MP Denise Phua on the defensive]. The parents are asking for more govt support to create work opportunities for their autistic children when they grow up and significantly improve the care for autistic adults who are unable to work. I don’t think this is too much to ask – every parent after all wishes for the best for their children, they want to see them gainfully employed and turning the wheel of life. This is a reasonable expectation that ONLY the state can provide.
Unlike many other first world countries where the govt gives extensive support for parents of disabled children, the Singapore govt leaves much of work to charities and civil societies. I really don’t believe that’s an intelligent way to get on top of this problem – as these organizations will always suffer from lack of resources. To exacerbate matters most of the financial burden of raising an autistic kid these days are borne directly the parents – and many of the interventionist programs available for autistic children are prohibitively expensive and out of reach of most Singaporeans and residents – again the Singapore govt seems to be doing very little in the way of alleviating the mental and financial pressures of caring for an autistic child.
Contrary to popular belief, this petition is not new. Several years ago, this same concern was brought up to the attention of the government and true to the spirit of the “you die your business lah” – their only response was to create a CPF scheme that allows parents to put aside the own money to care for their children – that’s like asking for help from your boss and what he does is ask you for your wallet and he takes the money and sets it aside only to give it back to you somewhere down the future – how does this qualify as help in comparison to other first world countries is absolutely beyond me.
Only one word can describe accurately the long term plan of the PAP govt towards those families who have to raise an autistic child – DERELLICT. No I am not going to soften or retract my words, if you want a detailed comparative study of how other first world countries are getting a handle on this problem, this can be easily ferreted out from the internet. ONLY remember whatever conclusions you may draw AFTER would not be very far from the word DERELLICT!
Remember, I am like the magic sitar, I am the man who calls a spade, a spade. If you don’t like it, you can lump it.
Although Denise Phua has done a lot – I do not believe the PAP has done enough to allay the fears of these parents. Otherwise why would they even need to set up shoulders (where the fuck was AWARE again? Promoting lesbianism and gayness again?) along with coming up with a nationwide petition – their request to be able to die in peace knowing full well that their offsprings would be taken care of and be able to turn the wheel of life is very small and understandable request.
Meanwhile Denis Phua urges the people putting up the petition to be patient. But haven’t they been patient enough?
“Autism is a problem not only in Singapore. But throughout the world. And its due mainly to couples having children late in life. This is quite normal in first world countries where the men and women will first establish themselves academically and vocationally before turning their attention to raising a family – if the Govt folds their hands and take the attitude by aiding and helping it is a form of welfare, then I don’t think they really know what they are getting themselves into – as time goes by, more and more couples will see the plight of families who have to raise autistic kids all by themselves – they will shy away from having children as the probability of conceiving an autistic child is statistically high after a certain age – that means the cost of having a child goes up and its only a matter of time before many couples will perceive this as a liability, result, no one has any babies – why? Because the government believes this isn’t their problem – that is what happens when you have a selfish government that only seems to have the bad habit of allocating money to the “winners” such as scholars and people who they believe can contribute to the nation – but where the accounting goes awry is when they leave so many families to fend for themselves to raise an autistic child, then what it will do in the long run is, it will create resentment and anger – as it is perfectly understandable for every parent to wish for only the very best for their children – in this case, SHOULDERS isn’t even doing that, all they are asking is the right to die knowing that their children will be taken care of by the state – this is so little to ask, yet it is withheld from them – so let us not talk about saving people from the death penalty or even whether we should volunteer to help the poor, aged, unemployed or get drug addicts gainfully back to work, serve the nation, giving back to society etc – IF this simple and basic thing can’t even be done and given the attention that it deserves, then those other goals are really beyond reach – you don’t even stand a chance in hell – it must all begin with protecting and caring for the weakest in our society. Every serious man knows this unwritten code of conduct. If he doesn’t know it, he is just a wishy washy fellow. Don’t listen to him, he is no good and even less of a leader. I may be blurr abt many things, but I am crystal clear when it comes to this!”
I understand the plight of these parents. I understand and sympathize completely. Believe me, I do.
My name is Darkness 2012”
Broadcasted very recently to all channels in the strangelands – The Brotherhood Press 2012
“If autistic children want to play our game and impersonate HAL 9000 computers, then it must be important to them - and if that is important to them, it is very important to me. Send a all points bulletin across the length and breadth of the strangelands – they are to receive sanctuary and any tribes that touches them will automatically be our sworn enemies, that will be all. Now I want Oran to destroyed, I want every building to be levelled and the whole city to be turned into a giant lake, take no enemies and leave nothing standing, not even a blade of grass, let this be a warning to the Saracenians and the other tribes. Obey me!”
Arrullian Protocal – The Book of Ages – The Brotherhood Press 2012
“In the age of steel. A group known as the rubberband group came into our game. They impersonated super computers and spoke using a strange codex. No one knows whence they came from. They call Darkness, Charlie Chaplin. It is not known what is the relationship between the dark one and these people. They speak in a language known as codex, using only five keys it seems – ( #: ; ” – other than this, we know nothing about them. Perhaps they are code breakers, very little is known about them, as they are known as the children of paradise and are offered protection by the dreaded Order of Purple – so it was in the reign of Padishah IX, the dark one allied himself with the children of paradise and together they became one of the same.”
From the Book of Ages – The Brotherhood Press 2012
Singaporedaddy: “Come children follow me. They will be here soon.”
Children: “Where is Charlie Chaplin?”
Singaporedaddy: “He is fighting the monsters that are coming this way, quickly get into the space ship!”
From the Book of Ages – 2012
Children of Paradise: Charlie play your violin.
Darkness 2002: If you like.
The Book of Ages – The Brotherhood Press 2012
What I find really strange is how most people wouldn’t hesitate to giving the thumbs down to a firm for looking like shit, speaking in Babel and doing the things we would never ever do – but when it comes to ourselves - most of us and including myself bfr I was conscious of this, NEVER ever seem to audit the way we come across to others along with the whole art of making it easier for others to form a great FIRST impression of us.
Do you notice. We don’t AUDIT our behavioral and speech programming – could be if we decide to do so, we may discover many of aspects of our character which may be sending off the WRONG vibes to others.
My point is we really aren’t that mindful of how we come across to others or even what kind of messages we are subtly transmitting to those around us. Coming to think of it, whenever, I met people its not uncommon for me to label them somewhere at the back of my head as people who have a lot in common with firms. I know a lot of Mercedes Benz in my life. I also have my fair share of temperamental Continental breeds like Ferraris along with Alfa’s. To put it another way, all of us judge people from the way they speak and to how they carry themselves or are carried, it seems judging from the recent sacking of that SMRT hincho. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t JUDGE along with evaluate, compare and contrast, that’s what makes you and me human. You could even say judging people from the first impression is hardwired into the human condition – its a primal force.
And this underscores the importance of taking care and attention abt how we want to come across to others. Even benign everyday things that we do, wear or even carry along with us radiates certain vibes – I can recall distinctively, there was this time when I told myself, I should smile more. So I developed this habit (good or bad I leave to you to decide) of smiling at girls (usually in short skirts) on my daily rides. That could explain why SMRT officers kept shaking me down as I probably came across as crazed suicide bomber. You get my point – most of us aren’t really conscious of how we dress, have bogey hanging from our nostrils or even sensitive enough to register why the person is looking at us with that, “that tie doesn’t match that shirt” look.
But we should. We WILL. Why? Like I said, we are the CEO of the ‘I’Corp. I mean it in the literal sense – the SELF is the first corporation before any corporation – whether we like it or not that’s how the world is hardwired to make sense of who we are and what we might stand for. Some people may disagree with me, but these are the same people who are so committed to authenticity along with that safoir faire “Rojak lah” attitude that they regularly expect others to have the sagacity of either Buddha or Mother Teresa to fathom their designs on this planet. No one is going to do that. Behavioral researchers have discovered that people usually make up their minds abt others within thirty seconds after the first impression and that image doesn’t decay – it may get better or worse in time, but that initial “You are Dr Livingstone, I presume” moment usually stays longer than we realize – that’s why looking the very best that you can look and projecting the right image is perhaps one of the best investments that you can possibly make to the Corporation you yourself represent – YOU!
Others may come, but this is the first step in The Way of the (Urban) Farmer.
* Looking good doesn’t mean spending a lot of money on branded apparel and expensive watches etc – it just means, being clean and neat. I find that the best way to do this is to allow your better half to buy your clothes along with accessories – I find that women are especially well suited to this role, as they usually take immense pride in dressing up and controlling their men – now you know why, I am always bumming drinks by lending my services to Jazz Clubs along with commercial kitchens – I only get $50 a day. Automatically, it appears whenever I open my wallet and at the end of the day somewhere between my clothes being laid out to repeating the whole process, it appears magically again – a wise farmer NEVER fights with the professional.”
The Way of the Farmer – The Brotherhood Press 2012
March 12, 2012
Jazz is a microcosm of life. It’s pathos in verb form. When a man walks on stage and performs a jazz recital, the audience usually thinks there is a score and everything is lined up – nothing can be further from the truth. There is nothing, just the rudimentaries of a few notes and everything else is really negotiable. That could be one reason why most people find it hard to appreciate Jazz. They think it’s a mystery and many even have trouble telling the difference between one score and another – so these people regelate Jazz as an interest that only the rich and educated are able appreciate like fine wine and multi facetted women like Cecillia the IT spitting cobra. But if we take the trouble to look at a thing, anything even and simply close our eyes and listen the music, it shouldn’t be very difficult to understand that jazz music has plenty of room for acceptance, so everyone can enjoy it: from young and old, from rich to poor, from the smart to the stupid.
It’s hard to comprehend the idea of music being so open that it’s formless and classless especially in Singapore where everything has been packaged and marketed and rendered exclusive – but nothing can be further from the truth. There is this tiny jazz club in Munich along Herzog-Heinrich-Str, it’s runned by a quirky New Yorker – I like it as I can walk in to the kitchen without getting stabbed and the owner even allows me to raid his cellar providing I make myself useful and don’t scare away the customers. Around midnight, this place comes alive, very alive and the man dies and is reborn again as light.
Trust me, anyone can impersonate the risen and the best part is you don’t even need to be Jesus Christ to rise again. All you have to do is find that mythical line in music and she will do the rest. Trust me. Go with the flow, don’t ever fight it.
People like to use hip words. I guess that’s one way to show others that you are grounded and connected with prevailing thoughtware. But what happens when words are regularly bandied around without one really understanding what they actually mean.
Something has to give – meaning, probably, as whenever words are used again and again indiscriminately without really understanding their true meaning along with their implications – then a form of leaching and chelating occurs and as time goes on, that word becomes so evacuated of meaning that it ceases to be useful any longer. Many words and phrases have gone down this road perdition in Singapore. Take the phrase, “innovation and creativity.” Ask yourself how many times it has been used by leaders in both the public and sphere who don’t really seem to understand that it goes beyond just producing stuff that everyone wants to vote with their wallet. If anything its an attitude that can ONLY be nourish whenever govt’s and corporation bother themselves with FIRST creating the right condition where these attributes can take root and grow – wonder no more why in Singapore, it’s possible for a politician to talk about the importance of innovation and creativity one day only to put the cinder of fear into others by threatening to sue their pants off for something they either said or wrote – and one can only wonder whether these people actually know that whenever they do this, not only do the leave a wake of contradition wherever they go, but they are infact disabling all prospects of creativity and innovation.
The same goes for the word, organic – to be organically inclined these days is very sexy – that’s why whenever I am asked to give speeches who are dumb enough to pay and listen to me on how to improve yield or why it makes perfect sense to palm instead of soya oil, I sprinkle these happy words like organic, holistic and wellness like Parmesan cheese – and usually it goes down so well with the audience that they usually invite me back to speak again.
I am not against using hip and cool words and phrases per se – only when one is serious abt making gainful progress instead of trying to come across as well informed, it pays dividends to KNOW a word from the “inside out.” It’s this level of attention to detail that is usually required when one is serious abt the whole business of making progress – words, such as “sustainability” and “organic” carry very specific sets of meanings and implications whenever they are used in their respective context and it pays to get to know them beyond their dictionary meaning.
“Professionalism has nothing to do with which University you graduate from – if anything, it’s an attitude that begins with first understanding a word or phrase beyond it’s dictionary meaning. If you use a word like organic growth for example to describe a firm, then it takes its cue from agriculture – and what it means is the board of directors don’t force feed their business process to grow artificially, that is to say, they don’t believe in mergers and acquisitions or for that matter even using extensive banking leverage techniques such as arbitrage. What they do is grow is their businesses very much in the way a plant takes nutrients from the biological material that has been put there by the farmer. To put it another way, it means expanding through a company’s own business activity in an incremental rather than a revolutionary manner.
So now you know something that you didn’t know – but tell me how many times have you used that word, “organic” without really understanding the length and breadth of what it actually means? Now do you see the problem? Now usually you will probably get away with it in a sales presentation or in general conversation. But let me assure you, when you are the company of serious men who understand the importance of time – they will definitely stop you there and then whenever you use either the word, sustainability or holistic and ask you what you mean – and if you cannot supply answer, that’s it. Kaput, finito, la fin. And that is really the cue for you to get back in the car and drive back where you came from.
Research and study the power of words – this applies to job interviews, making a killer presentation and making a fantastic first impression – can also be successfully to smell out bent pastors, half past six politicians and CEO’s who never bother to write their own speeches.”
The Way of the Farmer – Words Maketh a Man – The Brotherhood Press 2012
March 11, 2012
Went to the city yesterday to run a few errands – car couldn’t start, so had to stay the night – had dinner at the Jazz club. The chap playing the sax and who owns the club happens to be a very good buddy of mine, we go all the way back to the Pussy Cats.
His in laws are down from Australia for a spot of sights and sounds, so he had to play tour guide and that was when he suggested, I fill the spot for the tenor sax that evening – I downed two double malts and agreed on one condition that I don’t have to take request from the floor (don’t know so many tunes, besides my Jazz repertoire is pretty off beat) with that stepped right up to the plate and played Sanborn’s, a little tenderness along with a few others to break the ice - can’t remember much about the night, I was very much in my own world marinating in music. I realize this sounds ironic as there was quiet a large turn out, but that’s how it is with me and Jazz, me and my sax and screw the rest, nonetheless, it was mellow and the evening flowed sweet and clear.
Played also bits of Eugene Grove, Miles Davies and Stan Getz with a bassist and believe or not accompanied with Indian drums (not bluffing the type that the use in temples, not bad, it gelled pretty cool)