May 26, 2015
Many years ago I parted waves with a very good buddy under acrimonious conditions. When he asked me for moral support to marry a woman. I told him quite plainly, he was making the world’s biggest mistake by marrying a woman who in my opinion did not genuinely love him at all and was just a cunning gold digger – I even shared with him my premonition that he would have three stellar years followed by three years of grief where at the end, he would end up heart broken, sad and she would would run away with all his money.
After that my friend never contacted me again. He never asked me to attend his wedding. On one occasion when I fell into a spot of trouble four years ago and sought his help. He cold shouldered me. So eventually all contact between us ceased completely.
In those three years my friend lived like the Shah of Iran. Business was booming. Money was no object. And soon he found himself surrounded by parvenus, apple polishers and crooks who only told him what he wanted to hear. I suspect he even went into business with these lackeys who screwed the shit out of him. Worst of all, his wife was the keeper of all his money. He disregarded my one advise – that he should buy a one kilogram gold bar every six months, trek up the mountain and bury it in the place where X marks the spot.
As I predicted when the shit hits the fan. That would be your second life.
He called me a cretin who should have been born in the age of sails and candles and even had the temerity to lecture me on wealth management with the opening words,
‘Who in their right mind these days buys physical gold….’
Today everything that I predicted came to past without even the slightest deviation – he has been declared a bankrupt, his wife has scooted off with whatever little cash he has. He lives in a broken house without a roof and he commutes to work in a bicycle.
I don’t even know where he is – he doesn’t want to contact me and there is absolutely nothing I can do because I don’t even know how deep in debt he is or for that matter what has transpired all these years when we lost contact.
‘I am by nature a paranoid person. That if you must know is the secret of my success. I take nothing at face value. If we ever get to sit down for coffee. 9 out of 10, I already know everything there is to know about you – 9 out of 10, that entire encounter is recorded and I will play it again and again to ferret out any inconsistencies.
I never keep to a schedule. My daily movements are random. I never take the same route twice if possible. I never walk into a building without a blueprint in my head. I drink only plain water and eat only in places where I know the chef – if he’s on leave, I settle for bread and butter.
I trust no one.
I am a person whose impossibly hard to get close too. I don’t volunteer information and if I do 9 out of 10, it’s disinformation. I never allow people to flatter or play on my greed – I am always suspicious and much prefer to act thru my lawyers anonymously in land deals.
No one can get close to me. I live smack in the middle of nowhere. The roads leading to the house is bobby trapped. They are rotated daily. There are 5 layers of defense – even if a brigade armed to the teeth storms my house. The death count will be so high, it’s unlikely they would ever succeed. If George Yeo wants to spend a night in my plantation he sleeps sounder than Obama in the White House.
It’s impossible to get close to me. Or to even attempt to influence me. I am always alone. I am immune to call girls, flattery, alcohol etc etc. I’ve trained myself thru the years to be comfortable and effective in living a simple, unpretentious and frugal life. My only luxury every day is a cup of gourmet coffee that I cherish immensely.
Above all I don’t trust myself with money – that is why at any one time I only carry $50 with me.
The only time I broke this golden rule was four years ago when I had a wad of cash with me and a pretty girl in a short skirt who worked in a hardware shop sold me $3,000 worth of power tools that I only use once every two years.
That incident filled me with so much disgust, it merely confirms my long held suspicion – I can never trust myself when it comes to money – that’s why I only carry $50 dollars in my wallet.’
Cars are likely to be less affordable to the average Singaporean who own HDB flats. This means as time goes by many of the multi level car parks in HDB’s will begin to empty out.
The rate of emptying out can be very easily computed to provide a fairly accurate projection of how many acres will be available for commercial farming.
There are of course constrains in farming in multi level carparks, height limits the type of crops along with material handling complications. But all these are not insurmountable problems.
Light for example can be harvested and piped just like water with fiber optics, mirrors and intelligent tracking devices. Hydroponics dispenses with the need to use dirt and manure keeping HDB’s clean and orderly. The availability of overhead structures facilitates automation.
There are many opportunities for commercial farming in Singapore.
‘If I farm in Singapore. I would grow coffee. I know the crop like the back of my hand. Coffee is a very Kwai Kwai tree unlike oil palm or fruit trees. It does not shed its leaves . They are on the tree year round. So they are like cats. That makes them ideal for strata cultivation. With the right farmer, you can train them like dogs to grow only 5-8 feet tall and still be very productive. They don’t need pollination either so there are no bugs. The coffee cherries are turn bright red when ripe, that’s good. As robots can very easily be programmed to pick red stuff. They are pretty flexible and there is a lot of room for improvisation – in terms of ROI, coffee offers the best bang for the buck – world coffee consumption is likely to double with Arabica taking the lead closely followed by robusta.
But as I said, the farmer is very important. As coffee trees are like children. They can be very playful and mischievous, if one doesn’t know how to love them with the right balance of discipline and affection or know how to bring out the best in them – for instance, they can boycott the farmer, if they don’t like him. They can also produce male flowers that never ever turn into coffee beans.
But the real joy of coffee is it’s a very adorable crop that most people will always want to know more about. You can crush a dried coffee bean and bring it to the nose of someone and they would smile, purr ‘mmmmmhhh!’ and follow you to the ends of this earth. Or infuse it with deep mystery by gently heating it in a skillet over charcoal embers till it crackles and pop like popcorn as everyone watches mesmerized by the release of aromatics and colloids – grind it into powder and serve it there and then pipping hot with a Jaffa biscuit.’
May 25, 2015
The emerging El Nino unfurling somewhere in the Pacific even as I write this is likely to be a historical event.
By all reliable accounts, it will sharper than the 2009 event possibly rivaling the 1997 event.
There will be less rain this year.
Without rain I can’t work my magic. It’s no good.
If this event stretches out three to four months. I could put up a good fight. I reckon. But anything thereafter and we are in lose/lose territory.
The question now is how do I manage my loses so that they remain small.
I believe only the Israelites might have the answer. They are after all, the undisputed magicians of the farming world who can even commercially produce sweet and heavy oranges even in semi arid conditions.
The Jews have no fear El Niño. The farmers in Israel are very serious businessmen. They don’t waste their time dabbling with mumbo jumbo such as rain dancing, cloud seeding or holding out wire hangers to look for precious water in the desert.
Their Tao is the mathematics being able to thrive under abject conditions of resource scarcity. They accept these impossible operating assumptions as the basis of their agricultural policy – this is why they can regularly yield 2.75 tons per hectare of succulent grapes even outstripping the French.
The Israelites have the answer – but they keep their farming secrets very close to their hearts like the blue prints of wonder weapons. As they don’t want to empower their Arab neighbors to grow commercially, it’s geopolitics….strategy….warcraft…statecraft. That I can understand.
The answer is with the Israelites. Only they have the key. As for us, it is our faith in Mother Nature that fails us.
‘It is May 25. Yet it continues to rain. How is that possible. Early this morning dark clouds formed – since the wind was still from the Westerly direction. This confirms, the trade winds have weakened this year. But this still doesn’t explain why it rains at a time when it should already be bone dry.’
May 24, 2015
June is the seasonal equatorial midpoint…it’s the proverbial half way mark….the unsettling period when the seasons begin to change. The time when one season steps in and another bows out. The wind pivots only in June. Rains always fall straighter. Rooms appear longer and bigger. Razors blunt easily. Door knobs sting with a barb of static. Dogs howl often.Water from the tap runs warm. Clothes dry indoors. Canned food warps. Rubberbands snap easily. Bubble wrap pop crispier. Matches light effortlessly. Stubborn doors close without gaps. Window frames torque. Cats disappear for days on end. Snails travel less far. Copper acquires a greenish patina. Brass dulls. Stars appear to be further away. Roof tiles loosen and frequently fall from the eaves. Slippers are less stick. Socks fluffier. Toilet paper feels like sand paper. Knives loose their edge faster. Paper curls at the edges. Books unhinge from their spines. Batteries die out before they are supposed to.
June is when everything in and around the man acquires an almost supernatural quality.
The morning light in June is not the suffused wooly light of January or April. It beats down fierce and hard, leaving nothing to the imagination. There is no fairy tale lingering mist during day break in June. The flight of the swiftlets are broken. They dip from side to side – it’s the effect of thermals that makes it difficult to maintain balance in flight. They, the birds chirp two stanzas again and again, Kee and Yee, as if to herald the arrival of that primordial season of uncertainly. Either that or to mock the proud sea eagles who glide high above them in arcs during this time of the year.
In June, the man who lives on the hill installs himself on a rattan chair during the copper tone evenings. He wears only khaki during this season blending into the bronzed landscape. The laces of his boots are turned outwards to allow the leather uppers to breathe to keep his feet cool during the hot season. They say the man learnt this from the ever wandering Foreign Legion in Africa along with other such things that only those who know of the revolution of seasons.
Or maybe this simply gives a tone and hue to the man’s ever changing thoughts during June. Like his much rumored nocturnal soirées where the man will drink himself into a maelstrom and knuckle fight thereafter round after round till the early morn only to lumber back and slip back into his life of sobriety, propriety and respectability.
When anyone ask why the man’s face is always scarred like a prize fighter only in the month of June.
Everyone just shrugs their shoulder and mutters, ‘it’s the heat….it makes men do stupid things.’
No one knows why this man who lives on the hill likes to pick fights only in the month of June. Probably not even the man himself. As in June, the heat renders it almost impossible to hold on to the barest morsel of thought….as everything melts away leaving a melange of nothingness except maybe the man who stands alone watching the before, during and after of all and much more that could only be his mistress of torment called June.
‘I never talk about it. Never. I should, I reckon, get it off my chest that is. But for some inexplicable reason…I keep it secreted from the world.
I always know how it’s going to start. Usually, with the belief it will be different this year. But as the days creep imperceptibly towards June and the air begins to be hollowed out – he steps right out of my skin.
It’s easy when one goes out to look for trouble. You see I am always in control. Or shall I say he is. But I can’t stop him. Not even when I have the power to walk right out of the door. Not even when I am slowly wrapping thin strips of rubber to turn my fist into a club just before one of those fights where men are all laying bets on whose going to be left standing when it’s all done.
He’s not afraid what happens to him in the ring. He doesn’t even care. It’s as he’s steered me here thru out the whole evening and I am only there for the ride, this is all he ever wanted out of the night. To fight. As for the rest, or what comes thereafter – he just don’t care.
I take a look at the mirror just before I step out – I say to myself, stop this! But there’s always a louder voice that tells me – this how it will go down to tonite and you are powerless to stop it.
He steps right into the ring. There is a swagger about him. Someone offers him whisky. He takes a swig and kisses a girl with big tits for la effect. It works. The crowd is in a frenzy.
It’s a human ring formed by men who would either make the circle bigger or smaller depending on how the fight goes – when the boxers get hit and fall back, they get pushed back into the fight. No rules here. No count downs even. No referee. Just the brutality of whose left standing when it all over. That’s the way it is in kampung rumbles. That’s the way he prefers it.
The sound is deafening by now – the crowd is laying down bets fast and furious. He does a Mohammad Ali jig, two jabs, left…left…right followed with a lightning upper cut and caps it off with a pirouette with both hands held up high. It drives the kampung crowd wild. Someone smears Vaseline mixed with Tiger Balm over his forehead, it cuts the pain. Another oils me him down with coconut oil and the bell rings.
Then it begins…..
Somewhere in this choreography of screaming men and women, spit, blood and sweat suddenly the world slows right down to a crawl – I can see myself in the ring shadow boxing. I shout out, ‘stop! Please stop! I am afraid. I want to go back home now!’ But it’s only a whimper somewhere in my head. As I watch in horror as this monster tears right in with teeth gnashing when it begins. He takes a couple of hits, but he’s to deep in the gyre to feel a thing – ‘stop! I beg you please stop! But it just goes right on like some terrible nightmare. The crowd is going wild…the lights of the lorries…a girl flashes her tits…a smiling man with a row of gold teeth…he’s covered in blood. His eyes are all swollen. But I can just make out that he’s relishing every moment of it, as he flashes me a crazed look of a tortured soul.
Please stop!….please. I am afraid. Please I beg of you. Please stop now and let’s go home together. Please. I am afraid. Stop. Please stop….I just want this nightmare to stop.’
Life is intrinsically meaningless. It’s like a empty room. But what makes life rich, varied and interesting is what we are prepared to bring to the table of life. When I was younger I used to preoccupy so much of my time and energy asking – what is the meaning of life? why was I born in this timeline?
Now when I look back, that was such a waste to be asking those nonsensical questions, as all the while, the answers were always in me and not outside to be discovered.
‘Some time back ago. I came across a distressed chauffeured driven car parked by the side of my lands. When I approached the car. An elegant plantation lady stepped out briskly and asked me in a very anxious tone – ‘do you happen to know whether the world’s greatest troublemaker lives in these parts?’
I looked at this woman for a very long time who by now seemed rather perplex as to why I did not supply her an answer. In a while she asked the question again,
‘Do you happen to know whether the world’s greatest trouble maker lives in these parts?’
This time I ignored the lady completely and turned my attention to join the driver who was hunching over the hood desperately trying to figure out why the car had suddenly stalled. Since it was already getting dark. I told the lady, if we cannot fix it before sundown, my lodgings will be made available for her. To which she looked most relieved. Fortunately from the looks of it, a branch had snagged the wire to the starter and it took just a while for me to get the car started again.
Thereafter the lady asked me for the third time – ‘do you happen to know whether the world’s greatest trouble maker lives around these parts?’
When I asked why such a question is so important – she replied that her father (who happens to be one of my many business enemies) had warned her to be careful of trespassing the lands of the world’s greatest troublemaker….as it would probably be very troublesome and the last thing she wanted was trouble.
That was when I told her, ‘madam, the worlds greatest troublemaker is standing right before you now.’
The plantation lady laughed and replied in a half mocking tone ‘but that cannot be sir. You are after all the Good Samaritan who rendered us assistance in the hour of need and even offered to put us up for the night.’
But as soon as she uttered these words, her once serene features began to change to an expression of grave concern. Perhaps it was the dying light that imparted such an impression. Or maybe she had recognized a distinguishing feature that her father had once recounted about the world’s greatest trouble maker. The faint bullet scar just above his right eye that ran the length of his face marked him forever in plantation high society as an incorrigible duelist. Perhaps it was his trademark copper colored sunglasses that he never ever took off even when the light waned – as many villagers believed the man who lived on the hill was not of this world and possessed supernatural powers to steal souls by just one look into his fiery eyes. It’s very hard to say, as there are so many rumors and different accounts surrounding the world’s greatest troublemaker.
Before the plantation lady’s car drove off, she wound down her window and asked in a tone of curiosity,
‘Are you really the world’s greatest troublemaker?’
I merely replied with an air of languor, ‘sometimes madam, the questions we ask of others are often the very answers we seek.’
After that she lowered head in deep reflection for a very long time and when she had raised it again as if to ask me another question or to say so something – that was when I signaled the driver to drive on. The car drove off into the bronze sunset. All I remember from that one encounter was the look the lady gave me from the rear window.
How shall I put it…..
It was an unalloyed expression of utter relief of not having the misfortune of encountering the world’s greatest troublemaker.
May 22, 2015
Metaphors are very powerful tools to facilitate understanding. They can provide us with a clear vantage to see ourselves in relation to the greater world without any embellishments thereby allowing us to gain deeper wisdom into the mysteries of life.
For example, it’s not uncommon for many of my regular readers to ask – why do I use the metaphor, ‘to turn the wheel of life’ to describe my work as a farmer? Or why do I sometimes refer to myself as the keeper of the wheel of life when I speak about my role in relation to my community?
I guess one reason why I feel the need to be a windbag is simply because I find it quite difficult to relate meaningfully to the word, work. To me, it’s not a word that’s able to go beyond it’s dictionary meaning to adequately describe how I truly see myself in relation to my work. It lacks something…textural…spiritual..soulful…sympatico….the feel is just not right.
The wheel as a metaphor on the other hand is an image that allows me visualize very clearly what and how I do that constitutes work (I don’t much care for the word, work). Work if you think about it is like a man turning a wheel, there is no beginning or end. It’s both litany and joy. Perdition and salvation. All rolled up into the metaphor of the circle.
The wheel is also geometrically pleasing to my eye – it’s form has always been very calming to me, denoting wholeness, totality and balance. It represents perhaps the subconscious way in which I see myself beyond the whole idea of work to even overach to nature and beyond to the greater universe – as the wheel is the natural symmetry of the cosmos, it describes the movements of planets, cycles of the seasons and most things that cycle thru my life – the seasons…the chastening passage of time….how I need to pay my bills regularly every month otherwise the pudgy utility man will give me disparaging looks of disapproval.
Well it’s not a perfect wheel. The one I have in my brain that is. It’s a bit wobbly and there are even a few decent sized balaku’s to give it a wabi sabi tradesman feel. Enough at least to remind me from time to time nothing is exact…perfect…it’s like me. In this manner even with all it’s imperfection, it is still the essence of all that is natural, primordial, and inescapably a central part of who am I and probably how I see the rest of humanity.
The wheel to me symbolizes so many aspects of the dao of the frontier man that makes possible the classical idea of a man to make his fortunate in a strange foreign land – grit, fortitude, courage and yearning for a better tomorrow. Everything is rolling all the time, held together by superglue and ductape, everything comes full circle for better or worse, good or bad, they are all treated as one of the same reality as only the metaphor of wheel is able to embrace this multitudes of paradoxes and contradictions that orbit my strange mind – since as far back as I am able to peer into my own history, the wheel has been one of the central visual metaphors for my being….I constantly draw wisdom and strength from this imagery of the man turning the wheel.
But what, exactly, makes this simple round shape so powerful and so timelessly alluring to me still remains a persistent mystery – or even why I have come to see it as an indelible symbol of my mission in this world….the man who always oiling the sprockets, putting his ears to the manifold to check for unusual squeaks and vibrations….this is how I see myself. But like I said, it is really a mystery….for now at least. But rest assured, if I continue to turn this humble wheel….one day it will all be revealed…of that I am assured.
I wonder what is the metaphor that stands out most in your life and how do you see your work?
‘General Yeo is a three dimensional man. A very well rounded man like the very pleasing lines of a circle. Perhaps one of the smartest card carrying members of the PAP oligarchy. A man of all seasons – not like the migraine inducing octagonal shaped Zorro Lim who is like a robot or the perplexing nutty professor hexagaonal form of Eight ball Tharman who provokes a state of confusion. As this confuser delights in using so many words to say absolutely nothing weighty, substantial or meaningful. It’s just a drone…like the sound of my tractor.
So when general Yeo uses the metaphor of the Bonsai, Banyan tree and Tao to describe his book, it is probably a compressed and weighty metaphor that I am certain is able to encompass many geographies of thoughts.
The Bonsai is a microcosm of nature that is nurtured by the gardener. It can refer to Singapore per se. It can also represent the individual. Here you have the imposition and scale…it’s tiny…and also constrains as well. As the Bonsai lives in a small pot.
The Banyan tree on the other hand is the antithesis of the bonsai, it’s huge, it’s all encompassing, pervasive in its capacity to overwhelm everything within it’s preamble . This could be the world at large along with the many forces that are currently in play such as globalization and inter digital connectivity. It could even be seen as the name and face of officialdom and the broader context of Singapore past, present and future as well. So it’s a very malleable metaphor…but once again size matters here.
The Dao contrary to populist belief is not the way – that may well be the literal translation. But what it’s refers to is arcanum in the form of philosophy and wisdom that makes possible the means to perpetuate ‘the way.’
When all three metaphors are combined together – there are many levels of understandings of interpretations.
In the prophetic words of the third stage guild navigator, ‘I see plans within plans.’ It could even be a rebuke of the status quo ante. Bear in mind this fellow is a top drawer diplomat, so he is adept in the elegance of the art of war, where a repartee can be as powerful as a round hook. It could be he sees himself as the bonsai. After all General Yeo was a product of state nurturing and we all know he was certainly constrained by ritualized internal politics of the PAP.
So there are many layered meanings here and this is where I shall stop. As I don’t want to talk rubbish. I think it’s best that I read the book first.
I want to thank General Yeo for writing this book. As when he left politics abruptly and joined the private sector. The profundity of his scholarship and breadth of experiential knowledge as a world citizen certainly left an intellectual vacuum in the ranks of the PAP. That in my opinion left them without a functioning brain. This Byzantine lost I am sure was felt most acutely by the intelligentsia and many blogging compatriots in Singapore. Now all that we regularly have to bear is the pain that comes from the peculiarity ofleaders who indulge their free time writing lousy code on how to play Soduku and Pokeman. Majulah Singapura.
Yes…this book will fill my evenings very nicely…I am sure it will be both pleasurable and a rare privilege to peer into inner mind of General Yeo.’
Whenever evil people try to intimidate, cheat or make my life miserable. I will leverage on the wonder weapon of community power.
It is very simple. I’ve done it about three times and on each occasion it works like a charm.
I will fill up an empty bottle of Johnny Walker with Jia Jia Liang teh (as it’s the hot season). Mess up my hair and loiter around the village Kuan Yin temple and lament aloud like a sad man drowning his sorrows.
‘I have renounced evil…..but it seems being good is so very difficult.’
Whenever the temple patrons ask me, who is making it hard for you to be good? I will roll my eyes white and convulse as if possessed by an evil spirit – everyone will begin to shudder and run away exclaiming,
‘Evil has taken over the farmer…we will all be ruined.’
After staining my eyes with charcoal and looking like a Panda. I will amble to the Tamil quarters like a drunk Panda and sit all day long in the village chettynad drinking my Johnny Walker. From time to time, I will pick fights with the burly patrons, demand more free food and threaten to sing rude Indian songs if I am not given free Guiness stout and when I sense the curious onlookers has grown large enough. I will secretly put some Colgate in my mouth in the toilet, shout out at the top of my voice for all to hear,
‘I have renounced evil…..but it seems being good is too bloody hard.’
Before anyone can ask, ‘who has been making it difficult for you?’ I will convulse on the floor, go round and round like a break dancer while my mouth begins to foam.
When all the patrons see this, they will all say, ‘Aiyo yo!’ and runaway exclaiming,
‘The farmer is becoming evil again….we will all be ruined!’
During the cool of the night, when latex is runniest and the Malay rubber tapers make their way to the estates with their wife’s thru the darkened plantation roads. I will wear my skull mask and ride at breakneck speed like a mysterious Orang Minyak with my black Doberman in tow. All the while wailing in an unearthly tone.
‘Bo ho ho ho…I have renounced evil…but it seems being good is so hard.’
Whenever the Malay rubber tapers hear this. They will murmur quranic protection verses and this always sends shivers down their spines as they look at each other muttering,
‘The farmer is becoming evil again….we will all be ruined!’
On other occasions. I will use a faint blood red whiteboard marker and scribble 666 on my forehead and pay a visit to the only physician in the village who is a staunch Christian and ask him, ‘I have developed a strange rash. Can you tell me whether it is a mosquito bite?’ That’s the cue for the nurse, who is also a Christian fundamentalist to whip out the huge stainless steel crucifix and placed it on my forehead. I will pretend to be burnt, roll my eyes white and shout out in a deep and strange voice,
‘I have renounced evil, but it seems being good is so hard!’
For days thereafter the villagers will feel so disturbed and anxious. Many will not be able to control themselves. Eventually the pressure will mount only for all of them to march to the house of the person who bullied me to burn it down.
The moral of the story: never fuck around with me in the kampung.
May 20, 2015
Every year without fail, usually just before the onset of the dry season. There will be sightings of the dreaded man eating tiger. Whenever this menace makes it’s appearance. The entire village is paralyzed by fear. Since fainting is still very fashionable with the kampung ladies, it’s not uncommon for two metric tons internal beauties to suddenly crash like timber without warning whenever the subject of the man eating tiger is mentioned.
Every year without fail. During this period of strife, I suffer from chronic backache as I often have to catch falling timber. Either that or I have to be mindful to remain nimble so as not to be flattened like roti prata.
Every year without fail. The Tamil rubber tapers will be so anxious and fearful nothing ever gets done in the estate. The chickens will stop laying eggs and the cows will refuse to come out from their pens to graze. Even the womenfolk will shut the shutters and all the kids will be kept indoors.
Every year without fail. Life in the kampung is turned upside down. Work comes to a complete halt and all the villagers are popping Panadol like candy.
Every year without fail. The villagers will make the long journey to seek out the great hunter. Thereafter, the hunter will go through a long ritual that usually takes a whole day and a bit to step forward and say his piece. During the investigation when all the villagers are sitting quietly beneath the shade of tree – some will recount the tiger is as big as a horse. Others will insist, the man eating tiger is tracking then. Then there will always be some who will insist there is more than one man eating tiger. The accounts vary every year, but on every single occasion everyone is vehement they have seen the man eating tiger.
Every year without fail. After the lengthy interrogation of the villagers comes to a close. The great hunter will venture into the jungle with a couple of stout men with handle bar mustaches armed with shot guns.
Every year without fail just before night closes in. Two shots will rent out in the hour of hesitation. The period when the cows return to their pens and the first tongue of light in the village temple is lighted to signify good triumphing over the forces of darkness.
Every year without fail. After all the villagers are convinced the man eating tiger has been slained by the great hunter. The village Brahmin will ring the temple village bells, offer alms to the deities, bless a sacrificial goat and very relieved villagers will whip up a hot curry dish with lashing of tiger meat and kampung moonshine called ‘tuak’ to celebrate thru the night.
Every year without fail. Though no one has ever seen the carcass of the dead tiger – it’s not unusual to come across kids holding up a piece of curry meat and boasting. This is the man eating tiger’s heart. That is it’s liver and so on and so forth.
Every year without fail kampung tradition demands that I go thru this convoluted ritual and every single year without fail it begins and ends exactly like the last year. And finally every year without fail, despite all the claims of man eating tigers prowling around restlessly – there is never any sign of such a mythical beast.
‘When I first watched Ang Lee’s movie – the life of Pi. I never had any reason to doubt the Indian boy spent 227 days marooned at sea with a tiger called Richard Parker. That’s really how it is when a story is narrated in the medium of film. It’s linear. So there is no reason to question beyond what’s actually represented.
It was only in the last segment of the movie when the two Japanese insurers who interviewed Pi expressed disbelief that there was actually a tiger onboard – that was when It occurred to me. Coupled to the fact, there were after all no witnesses beside Pi who could collaborate his version of what transpired…that was when it occurred to me, maybe I was watching a depiction of what was played out in Pi’s mind during his 227 days ordeal….could it be the tiger was actually a figment of the boy’s imagination.
There was no Richard Parker on board was there?
In truth it’s impossible to answer definitively whether Pi actually spent 227 days with a tiger. The real question is – which story do you prefer? Interpretation is subjective but the question is intended to serve as a moment of reflection on what we consider real or make belief. Are you a person that prefers to believe in things that you can only touch and feel? Or are you a person who prefers to believe in the unbelievable.
There are no right or wrong answers – just an opportunity to find out more about yourself. The key word here is ‘yourself’ as in this very special narrative, you the spectator have the prerogative to wordsmith the narrative….that to me is one of the most interesting dimension of this movie.
But I digress. Do allow me to continue. The mystery of the man eating tiger in Pi account is further heightened when the main protagonist openly admits, he much prefers the story with the tiger, and when one juxtaposes this flippant statement with the Japanese investigators, who in their closing report remarked on the feat of “surviving 227 days at sea……especially with a tiger,” with a obvious tone of sarcasm – then what happens is suddenly, we the audience are compelled to choose which version of the story, we prefer to believe in. If we sit on the fence. Then, we would have to settle for a Bo Kum Buan open ended conclusion. Here once again not are we recruited into the narrative as the final scriptwriter as I mentioned earlier. But there is an additional gloss that suggest, we may even have the creative license to see the man eating tiger as an indelible aspect of who we are.
It’s a perceptive leap of faith. A long shot you might even say. I don’t think it’s that curious a matter for the perceptive reader of this entry to consider the philosophical question: do we all have the ability to summon a primal force within us? Are we really civilized when pushed to one corner where our mortality is imperiled?
To be quite honest. I don’t believe most viewers or readers ever experienced such depths of cognitive dissonance while watching this movie. To some extent this attitude stems from our prejudice that the movie context can at best only supply a very kitsch version of spirituality when compared to the sobriety of books. Besides the perceptive shift was executed in such a subtle manner that there were virtually no cues to prompt us to question whether the man eating really existed at all.
And that I suspect may well be the reason that accounts for the persistence of the metaphor of the invisible man eating tiger along with how it is able to root itself so strongly into the folds of human psyche.
As when we reflect on the many challenges in our own lives – some of them have the malevolent power to maul and in certain cases even chew us up like man eating tigers……hence thru our many layered unexplained fears, trepidation and anxieties concerning our jobs, health, ability to craft a better tomorrow for ourselves or even whether it would all end happily….with the sheer power of fear, we conjure…the terror of the man eating tiger.
In the final scene when Pi reaches the shore of safety after his 227 days of ordeal. There is the intense speculation – why did the tiger no look back at Pi before it disappeared into the jungle?
For me, the not-looking-back scene confirms Richard Parker did not exist at all. It made me think of how to thrive and survive at times. We all subconsciously summon the primal instinct of the cool indifference of the man eating tiger. As this is a form of super power that allows us to do the things we need to do when we are usually pushed against a corner. So when the tiger walked into the jungle without ever once looking back, it simply a metaphor for moving on for Pi himself.
Perhaps one day, when and if we ever have the opportunity to me face to face…..you will tell me the story of your own invisible man eating tiger.
You really must! I insist. After all, I am the great hunter who regularly shoots invisible man eating tigers.’
May 19, 2015
‘The worst fate to befall a man is not that he is running from the Mafia or Yakuza or the Illuminati. I know. Because many people have tried to put a bullet in my head. To me that is not a big problem. As risk can always be intelligently managed and mitigated.
The worst fate to befall a man is when he becomes his worst enemy. Because there you have the perfect assassin. A man cursed with such a disposition is like a walking time bomb. It’s only a matter of time before he will be destroyed from with and his whole life will unravel by his own hand – that’s to say, instead of this man proceeding forward in life like A to B to C to D and so on and so forth. It will always be two steps forward followed by ten steps backwards. At other times, it will be like snake and ladders.
I know this malaise intimately. It is a vampire thing. Those who know it will know what I am talking about. Those who do not feel the pull, will never know. It will always be an enduring mystery to them.
Sometime back ago I met a man who asked me a very profound question – how is it possible for a man who comes from a country with no arable land to conceive the strange idea of turning the wheel of life as a farmer. To this man. I was an enigma written in an alphabet he could neither read nor understand.
I laughed that question off and did not a supply an answer. As there are some things I wish to keep private.
However, I will share this much. If you happen to be different. Then dedicate all of your being to discovering that niche in this world that best fits your disposition. Do not waste time on Facebook. That is not real. It is only an illusion. A balm that supplies the fantasy that allows you to fill in that blank in your life.
Dedicate yourself to the real. Work towards materializing that world within a world that allows you live a dignified, financially liberated and happy life.
Because the world will always be cruel to people who are different. They will label us as mischievous, malevolent, dysfunctional, anti social etc etc. they will also pigeon hole your apparent affliction and describe it terms of autism or some clinical term to attempt to supply an explanation that slakes their curiousity as to why you are so different.
But let me share with you what I know about people who are different. Mother Nature is incredibly democratic – if she takes one aspect out of your character and leaves you feeling as if there is always one missing piece of the jigsaw in your life. Then the chances are, she has compensated for that seeming lack with yet another gift that makes you special and different from all others.
For example in my case. I am not afraid of the wilderness. It’s not something that fills me with trepidation and fear. I am in my element when I am in the company of trees and wild animals. Neither does isolation affect me negatively either. I notice unlike other people. I seldom suffer from depression when marooned – I seem to be perfectly comfortable living all by myself as this allows me to fellowship with nature and it’s a source of great happiness for me.
To cut a long story short. I created this world within a world for myself because I did not want to be dependent on others. I wanted to live life under my own terms and to be honest with all of you – it’s a great life. I am very happy with all my pets in this garden, as since youth, I have observed animals listen to me. I can walk into their hearts. As for the trees. They are my truest of friends and I regularly speak to them. My association with my trees as so good that I have the best yielding estate in the district. My métier as a farmer is undisputed. I am perhaps the best farmer in the world. As I happen to love what I do. This is all I ever wanted in life.
To live life under my own terms.
Two years ago. A couple visited me. They had an autistic child. I did not understand why they were so fascinated with my life or even how much I had accomplished.
Before the couple left. I told them. Have faith. If I can do it. So can your pau peih.
They left filled to the brim with hope as they had nearly given up on their autistic child….from time to time I still get into trouble. I like to terrorize the villagers like Dracula. I also happen to be the main cause for heart attacks and high blood pressure in the community and whenever things don’t go my way. I have a strange habit of taking off my shoe and banging it on the podium to demand for better terms from the millers.
But all in all, it’s been a good innings and I have no complains as I do live a normal life where I am even a respected member of my tiny community.
Find your line…..I say this out of brotherly love….find your line….if you are different like me….find your line.’
While last year El Niño confounded weather boffins no end by sending a non stop stream of mixed signals. Where it could be said, she was like one of those indecisive ladies who was sending out very confusing messages to her suitors….I want, I Dowan, I want, I Dowan. Thru out the whole 2014 starting from the word go in January – she was doing just that alone.
This year suddenly without any warning – Mother Nature seems to have made up her mind. She’s stepping on the gas pedal fully decked in Victoria Secrets – all the conditions that makes possible El Niño are lined up perfectly. There is no hesitation on this occasion. No room for speculation even, not the slightest. Everything is falling into the right place like a checklist before a rocket launch – it is thus far all green and all systems are ready to go….it is, what it is. As all the criterias have been met for a technical El Niño event to be called.
It’s show time!
The sheer speed at which El Niño has formed somewhere in the Pacific and declared has taken the entire agricultural industry by surprise.
There has been no time to prepare. No alerts. No contingency plans. Even government agencies thru out the world are all caught with their pants down and by the looks of how futures in agri sector have been snapped up in the commodities, it seems everyone in holding on for a roller coaster ride.
I fear the very worst this time.
The Amos Yee storm in the tea cup seems to be dying out quite nicely. Since his inexplicable and thoughtless accusation against Vincent Law. It seems most reasonable people are beginning to disassociate themselves from Amos and dropping him like a hot potato.
Even those who were once allied with his cause are now covered from head to toe with shit pie and from a public perception standpoint – not only do they all look like bloody fools. But their judgement for backing a psycho boy can only militate against them.
As by now, it’s very clear to all. They have all backed a loose canon that has just pivoted and given them a load of buck shot in the ass. It’s likely this still born event that initially showed all the promise of developing into the perfect storm is now beginning to lose momentum and fizzle out – meanwhile Amos continues to dig a hole into the center of the earth. He is completely oblivious to how he has completely lost the plot!
To me, this is most unfortunate as this can only be a once in a life time squandered opportunity. As Amos latest tiff with Vincent Law has not only distracted us from examining the nuanced jurisprudential moral and ethical ramifications of whether it’s ‘right’ for the state to level a custodial sentence against a minor for what is written and said, which in my opinion is the crux of this saga.
But this distraction has also allowed the custodians of power to elide this entire case without having to supply a credible explanation as to how it’s possible to send a kid to jail for just speaking his mind.
The losers are of course, those who care deeply about their constitutional freedom. As they would have benefited most from further public discourse on this matter. As it is the season has passed. Opportunity is gone.
This epic reversal can be credited to Amos, who by indulging in an incomprehensibly petty and irresponsible cry wolf caper against the man who bailed him out of prison lost sight of the far more important fight as he busies himself with kiddy sandbox politics.
It’s fair to say Amos has squandered all his sympathy votes along with shifting the public focus from the cogent to the practical question: how can we all forget this repulsive boy and move on with our lives?
Amos has in effect committed online hara-kiri in one masterful stroke that even makes the charge of the light brigade look like a very sensible military enterprise and now all that’s left for him and his motley crew is to disappear into obscurity like a sugar cube melting into nothingness in a hot cup of tea.
No El Niño there! It’s a false alarm!
If this is the way you are going to play the game of thrones. Then please stick to scramble lah. This is my advice. As you didn’t even reach level 1. You lost the plot and egged it up.
All you did was the prove that it’s possible for a human being to impersonate a fire cracker…to light up the night sky in one momentary burst of light to mesmerize the crowd….only to disappear into the oblivion of silence forever. Finito!
If you shock people. Sure! It’s given, they will probably prick up their ears and be riveted by what you have to say. But if all you can do is shock them time and again by cunningly playing with the meaning of words and manipulating the feelings of people and it doesn’t really matter how witty or smart you are. At some point. They are just going to tune right out.
Because you are dead boring. That I am afraid is what you are Amos Yee. A very boring, bland and characterless person.
‘Intelligence + Not having a worthwhile purpose in life = Stupidity.
One way to answer this question is why don’t you ask me how the likes of Alvin Tan is going to turn out. Go on! I dare you all!
Let me tell you where Alvin Tan will end up in 10 years time, if he doesn’t wise up mucho pronto to the facts of life – first of all, he’s puih Cheng (cursed fat genes). The only reason why it’s not apparent at this stage in his life is because he’s still in his twenties, so he can load up on overnight pizza and KFC and it doesn’t half show. But once Alvin hits thirty, once he gives in to that bagel craving, poof! Abracadabra! He is transformed into the Michelin man. It’s like that movie transformers!
No George Clooney there lah! So he’s going to be fat. Probably bald as well since he’s also addicted to sex – so he doesn’t know the Tao of preserving his precious bodily fluids. His aqua vitae. Kundalini power yada yada yada. But let’s not go down there for the moment folks, because I don’t want to muck up my futurist excel spreadsheet on how Alvin Tan is going to turn out in capricious journey of life.
He’s also going to be dead poor as well. Might not seem possible as we have always been brainwashed to believe America is a country of infinite possibilities – that at least is how the American dream reads in it’s glossy prologue. But in reality, one’s chances of making it the States can at best be described as chimeric…improbable…as I have always believed the most reliable way to make money is to go to the most fucked up country in the world or continent in this planet. Africa is good! The Ukraine is even better! In those basket cases, there is no law, everyone is pointing guns at everyone. You could just as well declare your backyard as a sovereign state and set up your own private army like a warlord. So he sought asylum in the worst country to actualize making his first million before thirty. The only promise America will supply Alvin is the sugary illusion that everything is possible and nothing is impossible. That’s how it is in America – everything is based on a fait accompli, hence the words on the dollar bill, ‘in god we trust.’
But I digress. So let’s see what Alvin has when he’s his mid thirties. Well he’s fat, bald, poor and added to that no one wants to fuck him. Oh…but he’s got his Facebook account. But even that has to be at best chimerical. And since it’s not real – you can never include it in the accounting of life.
As time goes by Alvin is going to find himself reliving life in his glorious past. That’s how it is when you are fat, ugly, bald, poor and no one wants to fuck you. It’s too painful to live in the present. So one seeks the sanctuary of the past to live in – there you have it. A sad man sitting in bed sitter all by himself wondering to himself how so much of his life managed to slip right out of his fingers like sand.
Freeze that frame! Now every time you read Alvin Tan just hold that image that I have painted about him in your mind and remember my formulation
Intelligence + Not having a worthwhile purpose in life = Stupidity.
Question: where will Amos be when he’s 35?
Well if he doesn’t wise up and continues to believe he has all the answers in life and sees the world clearer than everyone else like a psychopathic HAL 9000 smart Alec super duper computer.
Then at age 35, Amos too will end up like Alvin Tan. No Pulitzer Prizes. No booker prize either. The only discount that I am prepared to cut Amos in his averagely miserable pot noodle life is since he’s already ugly at 16, so at 35, he will just be uglier when he’s busy hacking away at his keyboard in a room where clothes and pizza go to die because he can’t even afford his buy his own alpha male pad. He’s still staying with his mom and pop. The only significant distinguishing feature in his life is that, somewhere around age 35, Amos will experience a rare moment of epiphany – where the awful reality sinks him – the sum total of his entire life thus far amounts to a grand zero and that it’s too late to reverse his fortunes.
That to me is a mathematics of life when it’s juxtaposed against time and opportunity .It’s not true to say that if you screw it up…you can always press the reset button and have three lives to play the game again. In reality from the moment you are born, discounting intelligence, looks and temperament to let’s say 18. You maybe have X number of opportunities to make it to the next level. If you miss it, then you just fall back! But always remember time is proceeding forward. That’s the default. So from 18 to let’s say 25. Y opportunities will appear again. And if one doesn’t commit oneself to doing what needs doing – then by 35, you will be so far behind that it’s almost impossible to catch up.
That’s what Alvin Tan doesn’t realize. He thinks, he’s going to live forever and life is just going to unfurl every new day like the day before. There’s no factoring of the practical necessities of life like how his cock will grow limp as he ages or how his attractiveness will wane when his looks go away.
Let’s face facts. Like I said, there’s no George Clooney there. And it’s stupid to talk about freedom in every conceivable context convincingly when you can’t even afford to throw your American Express Platinum card on the counter and buy whatever you want without having to spend 3 months munching on pot noodle to make up for that splurge. That’s just a dumb way for any activist to live lah! To me, true freedom first requires financial liberty as a strategic precondition. It’s non negotiable. People say money doesn’t buy happiness! But you notice everyone who likes to quote that aphorism just happens to be dead poor, struggling or getting by. Truth is I don’t expect money to buy me happiness just as I don’t expect my washing machine to give me a hand job. How dat! Because with money comes power, respectability and more importantly the means to fashion the means to live life under your own terms.
Do you all hear a pin drop?
Now let me share with you all how these two monkeys who think they got it so together would have turned out, if only they pressed the pause button somewhere in their head and considered my life equation:
Intelligence + Not having a worthwhile purpose in life = Stupidity.
Let me share with all of you my life theory on how it’s possible how weird folk like Amos Yee and Alvin Tan to cut the cake and still eat it at the same time. But first of all I want to qualify the term weird. I am not using this term derogatorily. As I believe some people are just weird and that’s just how it is in life – they just happen to see the world differently from all other supposedly ‘normal’ and ‘well adjusted’ folk.
In my book there is nothing wrong about being weird. Providing you are not cooking up bombs in your basement to blow up innocent folk. Or engaged in some form of malevolence against people and planet – I say, I am cool with the idea of you being weird!
And let’s all not go thru the pretense of taking comfort in the idea that everyone here in this forum is not weird! We all weird that’s why we awe discussing weird subjects like this! Normal people don’t do this – they don’t need too. They have something like a GUI icon of a bin somewhere in their head and all they have to do is click it and that subject they don’t understand just gets erased from their hard drive. So let’s not pretend we are normal! No one here is normal! We are all one happy Adams family comprising of very weird individuals…including moir!
But what I resent most about the likes of Alvin and Amos is they give all weird people a bad rep. That’s to say these kamikaze practitioners don’t know how to be weird thoughtfully…considerately….without triggering heart attacks, fainting spells and spiking high blood pressure. They don’t know that being weird is an art like dressage or Iado, where form follows function to allow one to mimick every aspect of normalcy. In effect, by doing what they do, they are spoiling the market. And if these people keep this up. We might all end up in some concentration camp in Ubin island one day, because society is so fed up with weird people spooking them all they time. They just have to exterminate us like rodents.
Like I said, if you want to be weird or even change the government. Then go and start an enterprise. Put all your heart, soul and intelligence there. Build that enterprise up. Be bigger than Cargill, Boeing Aeroplane Group and Goldman Sachs combined. Because that is nothing short of the membership criteria to the weirdo club. If all you have is two tic-tacs in your pocket along with a train season pass and you want to be weird. Then I say, it’s never going to come around – you are never going to break free from the cacophony of the multitudes who will just dismiss you as a nutcase and though you may believe, you’ve have a fan club. All you have is the illusion that you’re living out your dreams.
Everyone who has ever led a closeted weird existence already knows this life formulation that I have shared here.
Howard Hughes was weirdorama par excellence. Definitely as close to the gold standard that you will ever get of a dysfunctional man who was able to live his life under his own terms.
Have you ever asked yourself why he put his life on the line so many times by personally test piloting his experimental flying inventions in his youth – this weirdo was trying to get his membership pass into the weirdo club pronto. He was not interested in diffusing his energy, focus or commitment. Because like I said earlier, financial liberty is the first way point. And once he got in – he singlehandedly defined the idea of weirdness into the alternative genre of mainstream lifestyle.
Same goes for George Soros. He’s another weirdo masquerading as a perfectly well adjusted and reasonable businessman. Till you sit down with him for coffee and you realize that you’re talking to someone who actually speaks so casually about novus ordo seclorum—a “new order of the ages” in the same breath as if he’s asking you whether you want another cup cake to go with that latte. I mean you can’t get weirder than that in the spectrum of weirdness because we are talking about world domination here. To talk coherently about weirdness at this level, we would all probably have to invent a new compendium of words to describe that ultra level of weirdness.
What about Hugh Hefner, you think he was normal. I mean if I asked your mummy to dress up in a bunny suit and strut around impersonating a furry mammal – how fucking normal is dat! He was weird too! Along with Edison to Akio Morita to Steve Jobs etc etc etc.
My point is all these weirdo’s attempted to effect social and economic change with class, panache and élan. They played the game right to hilt like one of those fabled gamers that gets to mythical level 74. They had class – they didn’t go around like a bunch of cheap buskers titillating the masses with trite sensationalism that just ended up fatiguing their audiences. Instead theirs was a world class act of weirdness.
As not only did they pave the way for others who may have suffered the same affliction as them to strive towards normalcy, social acceptance and respectability. But the sublimely clever way in which they mesmerized the world with their point of view, products and services even opened the door to multiple imagined futures along with possibilities thereby pushing the envelop of humanity with class, elegance and raw intellectual power.
As for wannabes like Amos Yee and Alvin Tan….like I said….they are just boring. Sorry, seen, done it even have the T shirt to prove that I was there….what a big yawn!…next please!’
It’s no longer a theoretical possibility. El Nino is here. Earlier this week, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology released a statement, saying that conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean had developed enough for their forecasters to confirm an El Niño for 2015. As of today, Thursday, May 15th, NOAA – the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – issued their own updated forecast, stating that the El Niño had strengthened and spread towards the east, developing into a more “classic” El Niño scenario.
As it stands now, NOAA forecasters give a 90 per cent probability that El Niño will persist at least through the summer months of 2015, and an 80 per cent chance that it will still be around by the end of the year.
El Niño is scheduled to bite around September. The timing couldn’t be worse. As where I turn the wheel of life, we usually don’t get any rain for months of June, July and August. That means the second monsoon of 2015 will fail to materialize.
In the best case scenario, if the Monsoon in the Indian continent holds and the cold currents from the Himalayas continue to pour into the Andanman seas – there is a slight possibility, we may get some rain….it’s doubtful thought, as the weather boffins have categorized this as an epic sized events. So no rain for at least six months.
In the worst case scenario, if El Niño conditions persist thru to 2016 and the waters in the Pacific continue to flow to the Americas – then the first monsoon of 2016 will fail along with the second monsoon of 2015 – result no rain for nine months or possibly longer.
‘I know how this will all pan out. I guess knowing can only heighten the terror. I don’t know it as just a distant abstraction like how one watches a movie with that all to familiar feeling of detachment about how drought scissoring thru the countryside can bronze everything as far as the eye can see.
I know the chronology. I know it exactly, precisely and sequentially. What will happen when the rains fail for the first, second and third month and so on and so forth. I even know how the trees will put up a good fight in the very beginning and I even know how they will be beaten down only to be slowly weakened by each passing day as it cuts like a knife.
I know it so well…it’s cut and dried.
This thing is too big to fight. Sometimes that’s the way the cards fall! So all I am going to do is give in to it, step right inside it in the way a diver submerges into an alien world, closing my eyes and plugging up ears so that the water stays out, and simply allow my being to sink deeper and deeper. There’s no sun here, no moon, no landmarks, no sense of time. Just the swirling gyre of very strong undercurrents that overwhelms a man and reminds him how crumbly fragile he is when he’s smack in the middle of something so unimaginably big.
Recently I read somewhere how Amos Yee’s father had come to terms with his son’s condition – his exact words were something to effect, ‘I’ve come to accept the way he is…..’
For those who have never been initiated into the pathos of coming to terms with the finality of a situation, some may believe such a response belongs to the slacker parlance whatever. This interjection, which smacks of resignation, impatience, irony, dismissiveness and terminal disdain may well be construed as such.
But I guess what Amos Yee’s father is trying to convey is that, he’s resigned himself to the inevitability of the situation…..like that other nuanced Americana parlance of something else—resigned, accepting, neutral, passive: it is, what it is.
I don’t doubt such an attitude may come across as resignation…defeatism even. But it’s a layered meaning. As since it is neither optimistic nor pessimistic. It can only be the direct opposite of can-do….you jump, I jump….if you fail, try again.
No…it’s not defeatism. If anything it’s an attitude towards life that speaks of uncommon resolve in the face of adversity.
Acceptance. Coming to terms with a thing, no matter how unpleasant it is.
Acceptance. Reconciling oneself to the prospects this may well be as good as it gets.
Acceptance. Seeing it to this unpleasant business to the very end….even if it holds out no promise that it will all end happily.
To bear the unbearable as stoically as a man can bear.
All this is of course lost to bubble warped folk who have never had to stand helplessly before something so big when it proceeds towards them. That’s perfectly understandable especially when one considers how to the average Singaporean, the future is always perceived as malleable. Hence the mantra – it lies in our human hands to shape our future. Options are always on the table. And even if there aren’t any – one can always take faith in the notion…before it gets better…one has to go thru the worst.
So for the vast majority of hermetically sealed humanity as they go thru life – what I will have to go thru can only be a distant abstraction to them. I have reached an understanding of sorts where I am perfectly reconciled with how so many of attitudes along with the way I may see the world will always be estranged from the mainstream.
I have come to accept my estrangement…my exile…my marooned conditioned. Above all I stand ready for what may come way. For better or worse, philosophical acceptance has never been my default frame of mind. I am a sucker for believing everything from my weekend warrior spaghetti to wheel barrows can be improved….perhaps what really accounts for this optimism has nothing whatsoever to do with my much vaunted can do spirit. Maybe it’s arrogance.
I wonder as I contemplate both the looming El Niño and why Amos does and says what we does and say – that a little less faith in my convictions all things can be necessarily improved, bettered and that in the final turn of the closing chapter good will triumph over evil, could well be immeasurably improved with a little more skepticism?
Perhaps it’s wiser and kinder to the human soil. if we simply learnt to accept things stoically for what they truly are like Amos Yee’s father…..after all, it is, what it is.’
May 14, 2015
The last owner did not have his heart and soul in the land. So the trees are in a terrible state of neglect.
Before I purchased this land. I spent a whole day surveying the field and soon I fell in love with this land.
Once you love. It is very easy to commit all of yourself to bring out the best in a piece of land – nothing is too difficult, stressful or demanding.
It is a joy. A privilege.
The dry season is slowly and surely creeping in. According to the weather boffins, it’s going to be one of those epic scorchers. I hope they are wrong. As heat and cars don’t go down very well together.
Usually before the onset of the dry season – I conduct a a thorough check on my four by four to see whether anything needs fixing. When things fail in the field, it’s no joke, hence the aircraft preventive maintenance benchmark.
Normally, customers are barred from the service area. But I am not an ordinary customer.
As during my half yearly auto check up. It’s not uncommon for the automobile manufacturers to fly in their experts to interrogate people like me who usually ply the fields on what we would like to see in the next range of 4X4. They care. It’s hardly optional. Because people like me are as real as it gets when it comes to pushing a car beyond it’s engineering envelop – we are like test pilots.
When I tell them this or that needs to repositioned. Or this panier needs to be designed like so along with why and share with them my field experience – 9 out 10, it gets communicated back to the engineering team in Japan and it’s incorporated in the new roll out.
I guess one reason why world class car manufacturers CARE and LISTEN is simply because they can’t afford not to CARE and LISTEN, if they are genuinely seriously about the whole business of staying ahead of their competitors. As that remains the only way for them to continue manufacturing even better products that people are willing to vote for with their wallets.
‘If you are minister and you say – you don’t care about what others say and think about Singapore. Then my advice to you is go grab your shower cap and sing your own national athem in your jamban and while you are at it, hang out your towel as your flag and declare it as your sovereign state. Better still declare your living room a protectorate and your kitchen the 5th precinct of your own state.
To me that is not only a reckless attitude, but it borders on gross dereliction of duty. A total failure to scale correctly what is really at stake along with wider rammifications of such a corrosive attitude – as I can argue the world is not what it used to be. Attitudes have changed. So has the whole idea of spatial perspective along with how goods and services are now transacted. Granted. The vast majority of people in the world may only think about democracy and freedom as an abstraction. They don’t mind squishing ants and still talk about saving people and planet – but increasingly, the world citizen is becoming more assured of his point of view and contrary to what many may insist, they are not entirely powerless. Neither do they lack the means to prosecute on their beliefs.
For instance if that plushy Persian rug in their living room comes at the cost of poor Abdul being chained to a loom for 16 hours as his eyeballs melt away somewhere in Pakistan – then consumers these days are just going to give it a miss – same goes for the illicit ivory or shark’s fin trade. My point is they have the power to hit back! And never underestimate the cumulative power of the world citizen when he decides to give you the cold shoulder.
This brings into focus the need to cohere with standard norms which are commonly held in the international community.
In my opinion if a political outfit these days doesn’t have the maturity or worst still believes that it can go against the moral and ethical grain of the international community – then, it’s only a matter of time before they will be perceived as unreasonable and unsound.
I suspect the only reason why politicians in Singapore feel they can say ‘I don’t care what others think about us’ so casaully is simply because they have never had the breadth of business experiential knowledge to acquaint themselves with the make and break power of the world consumer. Along with how attitudes, perception and good will can feature in the decision making process to buy or not – to put it another way, politicians have never had to run their own enterprise where they have to serenade the world consumer.
If they did so, then they would gain a valuable observation that the customer is king!
Why do you think every December you will see me cuddling orang utans, feeding sugarcane to baby elephants and serving all these pesky NGO’s organic food.
Think about it!
So once again if as a minister you don’t care about what others think about Singapore – then take that shitty attitude and go run an enterprise where you have to pay out of pocket for all the paper clips and A4 paper and let’s see how far you can go with that pariah dog attitude.
I dare you!’
May 12, 2015
As a rule of thumb. I have observed with remarkable consistency, whenever vindictive people run out of convincing reasons to defend their case. They always label the other side as crazy. It’s one of those abracadabra terms that can literally transform the impression one has of a person without having to supply one molecule of evidence.
I reckon going by the common sense school it’s indeed plausible for there to be crazy people who often go against the status quo ante.
But to suggest this can occur all the time with such an extraordinary level of consistency and to even treat it as axiomatic flies in the face of mathematical probability.
That’s just impossible…it’s like winning the national lottery ten times consecutively! That’s crazy!
Hence, the life lesson here is – if one wants to taken seriously by serious people, one would do well to only use the label ‘crazy’ under a very strict psychological criteria. If possible even desist from using it. As it’s a tool that’s associated with crooks. Otherwise reasonable people will simply draw the conclusion: crazy people are calling sane people crazy…..again….again…and of course again.
And should you be foolish enough to believe crazy people who like to label sane people as crazy….then who might be the bigger fool? The fool who leads or the fool who follows the fool?
In summary be mindful of the labels you attach to others. As often, they can speak volumes about the person who uses them.
May 12, 2015
In life it’s impossible to fight every battle that comes your way. It’s not about right or wrong – it’s simply the mathematics of resource, opportunity and stamina scarcity. Since these attributions are finite and subject to variations.
It makes far more sense to fight only the battles that winnable. As for those that can only drag one into an expensive and protracted war of attrition. It makes no sense to fight these battles.
Sometimes in life to make progress, it’s necessary to take go backwards…there is no shame in retreating to fight another day.
‘If something in life really gets under your skin till it threatens to turn your entire existence upside down. Then take a good and long look at it. Better still mull over it. And after that quiet period of reflection – consider this: are you in a position to change what doesn’t accord with you to fit your conception of what’s right….perfect….optimal? If not, then consider the second best option, can you make peace with this thing that bothers you so much? Can you perhaps even reconcile yourself to the imperfection of the situation by accepting it for what it is?
If not. Then go.
It does not matter what that thing that bothers you is – a hurtful relationship, corrosive working conditions, evil boss or even a regime that you may not agree with.
Go! Is the answer.
If it’s a relationship that just seem to beat you up and leaves you exhausted all the time. Then go! You owe it to yourself to give all your love to another and see whether it all comes full circle and to partake of that sweetness when you love and receive love in return – and when you experience success in that area of your life, it’s an intensely satisfying, nourishing and edifying experience. All the hurtful words that your abusive partner used to cut you up with….just disappears completely. You are reincarnated as a better person.
The same goes for toxic bosses who are unreasonable. Consider whether you need this job so baldy that you may have to lump or just keep your head down. If you find that you are not prepared to cannibalize an indelible part of who you are to keep that job – then go! And again, you owe it to yourself to be a witness to your belief: having a successful career does not necessarily mean it has to come at the cost of impersonating a hamster on a wheel and denying yourself quality time to do the things you really want to do in life – that’s it’s even possible to actualize many of your dreams. And again when you experience success in that aspect of your life, it can only be intensely satisfying, nourishing and edifying. It will make you a better person.
Same goes for a regime that gets under your skin. If you find it’s impossible to live and let live and it threatens so much of your elemental rights as to subtract who you really want to be or how you really want live your life….then go!
Go make something out of your life elsewhere. Be nothing short of a remarkable success in the chosen field of expertise that you want to call your craft and above all prove to yourself that, this is the best decision you ever made to allow you to be the man who you were always meant to be.
Strive for that! Because that’s the gold standard and even if you fall short, at least you can be assured you don’t end up in the long kang, but probably break your fall on the roof.
That to me is the unabridged edition of real courage – not the vapidness of standing in the public square and shouting out at the top of your voice, if you don’t hunch and stand up straight you stand two inches taller.
Or worst still to appeal to the little good natured angels, sagacity and forebearance of strangers who would probably only care to see your noble cause as a distant abstraction as they go on with their averagely miserable lives.
Neither does spending time in jail make you Nelson Mandela either anymore than living in cave necessary makes you a geologist.
What are you trying to prove? I don’t deny. These acts may embody a very narrow understanding of courage. But since they all have a defined start and end point. It’s a very shallow variety of courage – the sort that may sell books or movies, but it lacks the essential quality of real terror.
Let me share with you what is real terror and how it relates to courage.
Real courage is when you commit yourself to bettering your lot against extraordinary odds. Don’t even talk about saving the world, when you can’t even put a down payment to buy a vacuum cleaner to clean your room that looks like a cemetery where clothes go to die – understand this! Bettering your lot is not an easy enterprise – it’s not for the faint hearted. As here there is no guarantees that it will all turn out well or even if you manage to make it past the finishing line, there’s a cheering crowd waiting for you….there lies true grit terror….you never know when it’s going to end…it just goes right on like one of those strange roads that you drive and drive all day and it’s just you, the unfurling scenery and the car that seems to cut across this infinite ocean that seems to go on forever. Here, there is only the terror of everydayness – that perpetual grind where today resembles yesterday and the day before and the only that changes is that you find that you have more white hair than the last time you looked in the mirror or that you figured 107th way to get by with superglue and ductape.
Here, a man wakes, puts on his clothes and looks at the mirror and says to himself, ‘I hope it will get better.’ Because some times even the simple of waking up and facing the world demands extraordinary courage. Here in this terror filled no man’s land where is no delineation between start and finish, no promise of resolution or even redemption only the litany of the gyre of life…not even the promise that it may all end happily. Nothing….just the man who goes in and out like a metronome tick, tock, tick, tock…day in and day to do the things that needs doing to better his lot…that to me is real courage and perhaps even the wisdom of prioritizing what truly important in life. It may take a whole life time. You may even fail a couple of times before you get the hang of it, if like me you happen to be slightly slow….like I said, there are no guarantees when you decide to live your life under your own terms…that’s life.’
May 11, 2015
An alien weed is slowly creeping into my tiny farming hamlet. Most farmers have not registered the clear and present danger this super duper species of weed presents. They don’t know how ferocious it can be. Absolutely zero. How it can even smolder all the good weeds and take over everything leaving the trees anemic, weak and prone to disease.
I know this weed well from my other life in Africa. It grows along the Gambezi – the Matabili call it ‘Ulak,’ it’s used in juju, black magic – the roots are soaked in vinegar for three days, dried and pounded into fine powder. When blown in a face of a man – he will convulse like a demented Jack in the box, till the anecdote is administered. Further up North up the Nile where it’s arid. This weed can survive even in the desert. Over there caravaners squeeze out its whitish sap and mix it with ostrich bone powder, it’s good for everything ranging from healing scabs on camels to patching up a bullet wound.
It’s not possible to wage a chemical war against this super weed. If one is foolish enough to do so – it will draw the fool into a very expensive protracted war of attrition. This weed has strategic capabilities….it has a brain….it can even retreat and mount a counter strike.
To knock off thid super weed…..it must first understood completely. This is the first discipline of warcraft,
‘Know your enemy and yourself and you will be victorious.’
There has to be a chink in it’s seemingly impervious armor. I know….I just need to find it.
We will win!
May 10, 2015
Asystasia gangetica is a weed commonly found thru out Africa.
In Africa an infusion of the plant is used to ease pain during childbirth, and the sap is applied to sores, wounds and piles, and in embrocations to treat stiff neck and enlarged spleen in children.
Powdered roots are considered analgesic and used in treating stomach-ache and snakebites.
A leaf decoction is used as analgesic and to treat epilepsy and urethral discharge. In Nigeria the leaves are used to treat asthma. In India the sap is applied to swellings; it is also used as a vermifuge and to treat rheumatism. In the Moluccas (Indonesia) the juice, together with lime and onion juice, is recommended for dry coughs with an irritated throat and discomfort in the chest.
In the Philippines the leaves and flowers are used as an intestinal astringent. In Tanzania plants are pounded with water to make a wash against fleas for young animals. Asystasia gangetica is occasionally planted as an ornamental.
May 9, 2015
Flumioxazin is a broad-spectrum contact herbicide. It works by interfering with the plants’ production of chlorophyll. Treated plants will respond quickly to treatment and rapidly decompose. Flumioxazin is an N-phenylphthalimide herbicide. The mode of action in this family of herbicides is believed to be inhibition of protoporphyrinogen oxidase, an enzyme important in the synthesis of chlorophyll. Mechanistic study findings suggest that porphyrins accumulate in susceptible plants causing photosensitization, which leads to membrane lipid peroxidation. The peroxidation of membrane lipids leads to irreversible damage of membrane function and structure in susceptible plants. Treatment of soil with flumioxazin will cause susceptible emerging plants to turn necrotic and die shortly after exposure to sunlight.
– reacts with direct sunlight. Combined with glyphosphat – bronzing can be observed within 15 minutes under strong sunlight. However full saturation spraying is recommended since there is no translocation capabilities.
– tank mix with paraquat @ 16 liter tank / grammazone strength 13%: 240 ml / Simezine 10 grammes. Premixing was not recommended. However based on my experiment with 4 litres of paraquat. I did not notice loss of potency due to antagonistic chemical reaction.
– field experiments conducted in section RB1 / BH / still to early to draw a conclusive result.
– non water soluble. So presumably it has good re emergent capabilities. But I need to find out – does it volatize under extreme exposure to sunlight. If so what is the half life.
– Handling of flumioxazin powder is very messy. A safe system involving batch weights needs to be devised. The current packing from Sumitomo Chemicals does not facilitate zero contamination. I need to speak to them to find out whether there is an industrial packaging that can be easily managed while kitted in a chemical suit.
– Asystasia broad leaf turns necrotic within glyphostate and flumioxazin mix. Within six days of application despite moderate rainfall. The results are still good. However in batch 29 and 24. It was noted that emerging leafs had sprouted again. I need to find out the systemology for this. Why does some weeds die off so well, while others seem to survive. I suspect there could be more than one genus of asystasia. I do not believe differing results had anything to do with contamination of chemicals. As I took great care in ensuring the proper dosage.
– Cost of flumioxazin is expensive. Works out to $4.20 @ 16 liter tank. One batch yields exactly 25 shots @ 10g.
– I have decided to abandon all experiments with arsenicals. They have all failed.
– I will begin testing idaziflam when the dry season sets in.
May 8, 2015
l’affaire Dreyfus, was a political scandal that divided France from its beginning in 1894 until it was finally resolved in 1906. The affair is often seen as a modern and universal symbol of injustice and remains one of the most striking examples of a complex miscarriage of justice, where a major role was played by public opinion, political parties against officialdom
‘I feel very sad that something which was quite benign and straightforward has now been blown up into the mother of complications.
The case is no longer about what master Amos once said or did any longer. Look closer. It has now become encrusted with so many other leitmotifs which previously had nothing whatsoever to do with the case. And standing right at the centre of this maelstrom is a clueless boy who has absolutely no inkling of the malevolent forces at play who mean to weaponize his case only to serve their own political agenda.
Understand this! It did have not have to be like this….not at all. There was another way. A better way.
A way where the well being of the child takes priority above all other considerations.
Had this caring and paternalistic approach been adopted by the custodians of power from the very beginning – things would not have been blown out of proportion. Not only would their moral authority be whole and complete, but most importantly, the case would never be politicised. Instead, arrogance went up to their heads like 40% proof alcohol and they took out the hammer without thinking. Added to this drunken state, peculiar women who regularly delight in the 1,001 pleasures of unmentionable orgasms vicariously from watching kids getting slapped only created perfect conditions for this case to be weaponized – now with each passing day as the famous Amos case unfurls with all its layered intrigues and complications, it’s starting to look very much like Stalingrad for the custodians of power.
I really have no idea – how it’s possible for them from this point to craft an exit strategy. It’s fair to say, they are well and truly in lose-lose territory. The best they can ever hope for from this point is to manage the situation so that the loses remain small. But lose they certainly will….
But the greatest travesty is how this unfolding saga scars the beautiful picture in my brain. As one of my greatest regrets is that I was not able to make the pilgrimage back to Singapore to pay my last respects to the grand old man due to pressing work commitments.
I so wanted to thank him personally and to wish him, travel well. As although the grand old man was far from perfect. There is no way that I can deny. I certainly benefited from his statesmanship and mastery of statecraft. Had it not been for Mr Lee Kuan Yew, it is very unlikely that I would have aspired to be the landowner that I am today.
This no honorable man can deny. If he does so, it could it said, this man does not know whence he came from…..he has no roots!
When I heard there were long queues of people who waited for hours to pay their respects in the rain. I was gladden. I too walked in the rain that day. It was my way to share in the grief. And I said to myself, though I was not there….at least I have this marvellous memory in my heart to remind me that I was at least there in spirit.
Now this beautiful picture is spoilt forever. And I am a very angry man.
As many years from now when people think about the demise of the grand old man – they will not remember the long queues of grateful men and women standing in the rain…..all they will remember is a cheeky sixteen year boy munching on a banana.
Do you all see how these fools have spoilt my beautiful picture? It cannot be the same again….it’s ruined!
Even this you have to take from a simple farmer.
This is what happens when you get a sheep to do a fox’s job.’