January 23, 2017
Q: What is likely to culminate in Trump’s downfall? Is it his acrimonious relationship with the media? Or would his failure to deliver on his promises be his undoing? Might it perhaps even be the level of division with the US that will lead to this?
A: None of these things. Not even the seemingly souring of ties with China. You got to understand, he just took his seat in the cockpit of power – it’s very early days and people are still hopeful. And this includes many who may not agree entirely with Trump.
Besides all these things that you mentioned will take some time to degrade even with the roll out of badly policies and stratagem – China ties with the US will be status quoed, only because if it in any way altered even slightly, it may precipitate a tit for tat trade war or worst still backfire on US firms – so any U turn there will likely take time and be staged to take place in steady increments.
The same holds true for broken promises – they will take time as well – but Trump is a great show man. He knows how to work the crowd. So we are likely to see how doable things in the short term such as increased vetting of immigrants and perhaps even repatriating foreign aliens back. But stuff like the wall – that’s not going to ever happen simply because the border between the US and Mexico is nothing like the West Bank in Israel or Palestine whatever you wish to call it.
I know there is talk of impeachment and a vote of no confidence – but even that I don’t feel can possibly gather enough traction in the short term to eject Trump. As Trump has shown a remarkable ability to be Janus faced when it comes to smoothing out those who he once pissed off – Romney is a very good illustration.
As for the neo liberal intellectuals – they might be a real threat. As their influence is not only all pervasive, but since they do garner a significant percentage of the silent majority vote they can inflict damage via the media – but then again Trump has demonstrated that he is quite adept and amenable to accommodating differences of opinions in his team – recently the ex CEO of Exxon Mobil was recruited into his apparent think tank and that guy is a very strong supporter of the TPP – so again the battle lines are not clearly drawn. You can’t say it’s them against him – as Trump seems to be quite inclusive despite his rhetoric that may indicate otherwise.
If there is any threat that is likely to emerge, it will be from within where he’s most vulnerable – and on the balance of probabilities it will be from the intelligence and clandestine services.
Trump is very clear here when on how he wants to define his administration with the intelligence services. How clear that intent is. Your guess is as good as mine as we are dealing with a show man, but if the office of the President is going to have an acrimonious relationship with the CIA and NSA to such an extent where he is going to do it his own way a la Frank Sinatra style.
Then this will completely alter how information is shared between the various intelligence and security services around the world – Mossad will do it’s own thing. M15 possible 6 will also clam up. As for NATO they will keep two books. Wikileaks will also do it’s own thing as well – as you have to understand Assange is not truly independent. So everyone is going to end up speaking in tongues like what eventually brought down the Tower of Babel.
Now that will happen because intelligence is essentially a cloak and dagger game – that relies on a web of operatives that are all embedded to varying degrees behind what you can term enemy lines or in no man’s land – so no government in their right mind is going to compromise that sort of clandestine network that literally takes decades to build up.
Why would any government that understands how this cat and mouse game must be played to win – stick their neck out to even collaborate meaningfully? If the commander in Chief of the most powerful country in the world has decided to be pally with Putin – bear in mind Putin sees the world prosaically. He’s under no illusion. As he’s ex Lubankya KGB stock.
This quandary also puts both the CIA and NSA in an untenable position – because the question is should they even brief the President without first filtering information to hedge their exposure risk? So what’s likely to happen is we may even see the secret formation of a Star Chamber. An organization within an organization very much like the Prussian Abwehr who even secretly conspired against the Nazi’s and even Hitler himself because many of these army officers simply didn’t believe a glorified corporal could ever comprehend the intricacies of how the clandestine cloak and dagger game should and must be played to secure a win.
Now even today it’s a matter of intense speculation amongst military historians – why didn’t Hitler just snuff out the pesky Prussian officers in the Abwehr, since even at 1933. He was aware that they were constantly pursuing their own agenda which included internecine bureaucratic and administrative turf wars.
The short answer was the Abwehr though small and since emasculated by the Führerprinzip was essentially the intelligentsia of the Prussian officer creed – it’s influence within the aristocratic officer class in the Wehrmacht can only be described as disproportionate to it’s size and assigned range of powers. Even Hitler realized it was futile to take on the brotherhood of the Abwehr so what he did instead was Balkanize the intelligence services into the SD and Gestapo and to a limited degree the Waffen SS to degrade their influence.
But it’s difficult to kill off like minded people who share a common history, identity and even esprit – and not for one moment saying Trump is Hitler, but he certainly shares certain commonalities such as – he’s an outsider, he doesn’t seem to understand the importance of intelligence in relation to how it feeds into the idea of strategic planning and risk management and above all I don’t think intelligence services truly understands that he understands either.
I don’t wish to come across as conspiratorial – but it is certainly a theoretical possibility, they would work to remove Trump.
But what do I know, I am just a farmer.
January 22, 2017
‘I don’t think I am a very good businessman – well not in the traditional book sense at least. As I seem to have this habit of spending an awful lot of time just thinking what I just heard, said or what it may all finally add up too.
If you try to get me to commit it’s usually a frustrating enterprise. Doesn’t even matter how good the deal is or whether it wouldn’t be on the table when we next meet…it’s futile.
As I will probably say in a neutral tone bordering on disinterest – give me a few days and I will come back to you. I need some time make adjustments and consider whether it can all fit nicely into my future plans. After that I will think, think and think. Usually I do my best thinking when I am in the field. I think when I am walking, cycling or just working with my farmhands – there is no specific line of thought – it’s like watching a movie again and again with no specific intent in mind. That I think can irritate some people. Or maybe send out the wrong message. As for others I can imagine it would probably take on a much more sinister appearance as usually in business it’s considered macho to be decisive and quick footed….but I am the direct opposite. My intent is usually dark and frequently inscrutable and it’s virtually impossible to predict where I am likely to plonk my chips.
I think, think and think. That could be one reason why I make less impulsive decisions than most people in business. Neither do I ever commit myself to do something only to find out later that I have taken on more than I can handle.
I guess you can say, I am slow…..very slow in my way of doing business. But that’s the way I like it and it’s served me very well.’
Today I added much needed organic material to nourish the land.
This is the way one goes about managing intelligently the land – as it is impossible to always just take, take and take from the land still expect high yields – I don’t deny that sort of corrosive logic may have taken hold of trade and commerce to such an extent where it’s no longer possible for even sane and perfectly reasonable people to believe any longer in the idea – it’s not sustainable to chase economic growth forever….not at least without incurring painful penalties that will only come back and deliver a bite.
The word agriculture, is after all an ancient word. It simply connotes the “cultivation of land.” And cultivation is at the root of the sense both of culture and of cult the farmer. The ideas of receiving and giving back to the land is an indelible act of worship to a farmer. Hence the word agriculture derives from an Indo-European root meaning “to revolve” or to fulfill the compact between man and land. To live and survive in harmony with not only the earth, but to also strive to be in synch with the way of the universe – it is only by reflecting deeply on the philosophy of agriculture and what it naturally imposes on the planter that the largeness of that the mission of agriculture is not simply to yield sweet and heavy fruit that one is able to comprehend it broader vision and that is to create a man who always strives from personal and organizational harmony, peace and mutual co-existence with all things in this world.
It is my firm believe – if more people just learn to press the pause button in their heads when they next visit NTUC and reflect on how the earth first needs to be lovingly tilled, plants nourished and grown to produce stuff that finally find itself neatly arranged in supermarkets shelves – perhaps they will experience a moment of epiphany that there’s actually such a thing as a profound spiritual exchange between man and planet that goes beyond the superficiality of the profit motive or chasing growth like an automaton….as what they hold in their hands is not just a banana or tomato. Rather it is the living philosophy of what it really means for one strive so very hard and diligently to live in synch with nature in the way man is and was supposed to live without being constantly distracted by the perpetual nonsense of hype and spin the world churns out just to sell stuff.
And perhaps they might even be able to perceive, there is value, more now than ever, in the specificity of this constant give and take compact. At a time of hyped promises, incredulous sloganeering, and unfounded factual claims, a person who spends just a moment holding a tomato or a pear lost in his or her thoughts, fastidiously working thru all these frivolous thoughts that might not amount to very much can seem, to me at least, to be sagely.
Trust me when I say this – there is a farmer in all of us….we just need to still our minds and he will emerge.
‘For many many years the only omnipresent doctrine that is the compact between governments and citizens is the notion – all success in both personal and organizational terms MUST only be measured by economic growth even if that may come at a great cost to the mental and spiritual well being of people. As a consequence couples today no longer see the point of raising families – soon the idea of the family man will I am sure lapse in the garbage heap of history. But what led us to this point is not avarice or for that matter a failure to appreciate the cogent – rather it was the flawed understanding that we all harbored as desirable, and even necessary, that we should go on and on like some crazy person running mindlessly on a thread mill that keeps on going faster and faster in steady increments all the time – that idea they sold to all of us as the good life, better even than mother’s milk, which would make the economy grow” and render everything better and newer and fresher. This of course implied at every level of understanding the mad idea that it’s possible to grow in perpetuity or that there exist no other way for us all to procure a better life without having to consume like some furnace that’s hell bent on burning every strip of timber in the house – for many years I struggled with this paradox. Often I was labelled as a closet communist with socialist underpinnings as I venerated the idea of the working man and his elemental right to the dignity of labor – these values I saw as not in terms of hatred of the capitalism. Rather I would much prefer to question why was the field always tipped in favor of growth at all cost and that others things discounted as of no value at all.
Today it seems the idea of no growth may well be a reality – but does it necessarily spell the end of the dream of mankind?
No. I don’t think so – not to me at least, as that is how it could only be. This is how it is….I don’t imagine you can understand the depths of my thoughts concerning this issue and should this entry come across as jumbled with no rhyme to begin or end, the fault is entirely mine….you see, this a moment of deep reflection for me as even I did not expect all this unfold in my lifetime and now…and now, it’s finally here.
Where I wonder does mankind go from this point? Where?’
January 21, 2017
There are incredibly well constructed. I wouldn’t even be surprised if astronauts much preferred them to clunky moon boots.
When it comes to outdoor products. A frontier man is the toughest customer to satisfy. As when a product fails to meet his expectations, they simply don’t even make the cut – nothing is just as it is to a frontier man. You probably never heard of VG10 before. But the chances are if a frontier man is going to vote with his wallet to buy a field knife….that’s going to be the first question he will ask. Same goes for field wear – only Kevlar thread will do to hold down buttons. Khaki twill linen is good to go as it’s 30 percent stronger than cotton and wicks sweat.
When I look at my field boots it’s hard if impossible not to believe America can be great again — in a word, there over designed. So over designed that providing one has the discipline to care for them diligently – they’re virtually indestructible. Over design means, even if the soles thin out, they can be recrafted and resoled to be used again and again.
Over designing a commercial boot or any product in the age of ubiquitous use and throw and buy again may sound counter intuitive and even come suicidal from a business point of view – but that has always been the one aspect of any product that separates their brand or service in an overcrowded marketplace and sets the philosophy for their entire product range.
For to over design is to go that extra distance such double stitching a boot so that if the thread gives in one area the whole thing doesn’t flop out….and what’s remarkable about made in USA is even done when the customer doesn’t even know why the boot is stitched that way. Or even why the uppers happen to be 1.5 mm thinner than the thick slab of leather that runs the length of the vamp on the boot — it’s not only just an approach, but an attitude and perhaps even a philosophy that creates a rapport of trust between the customer and the firm.
That I feel is the X factor that needs to be reclaimed by American firms. As when they prioritize cost competitiveness before quality and what a product is supposed to do. They also end up diffusing their focus along with blurring their commitment to nourishing that rapport of trust between customer and firm and in the long run – they just become like everyone else: instead of striving to be a badge of self-expression for those at the very top of their craft, as well as inspiring others to be like them.
No! Made in the USA cannot possibly be cheap. A pair of Fort Lewis twelve inch boots either way you cut or splice it will always cost a bomb.
But I for one will settle for nothing less as I said in the very beginning of this blog post – a frontier man is the toughest customer to satisfy and I am definitely a very satisfied and will always continue to buy my boots only from the US of A.
I do wish President Trump the very best and despite my personal reservations and concerns. I do really want America to be great again.
‘Should it be raining cats and dogs and you happen to be around Bugis. Do consider popping down the National Library at Bugis. Look up this publication called the New York Book Review – it’s a monthly publication with an old school sardonic Punch sort of line pictorial cover – now the first the thing that will probably strike you about this monthly rag is no one ever reads it well not enough at least for it to appear dog eared or even soggy enough to suggest that anyone would be interested to read it.
Now the really funny thing about this monthly publication that no one seems to ever read is the personal columns – it’s a ad space – where you have hilarious personal ads presumably posted by lonely intellectuals hoping to find love – stuff like I am Jewish, stay with my eighty year old mother, hobbies include candle making and watching grass grow….take a chance on me…I am actually quite exciting!
Ads like that…you get my drift – well one day out of sheer curiosity I decided to make an anonymous donation to this publication where the editor seems to begging for money all under the threat of imminent foreclosure – and I got around to asking him why would such a seriously Bohemian off beat rag have a personal ad column and he just quipped prosaically, Oh most of the people who take up space there, do so, so as to not embarrass themselves with the bother of donating money to us like you.
I guess what the editor was trying to convey in a very polite way to a Philistine farmer such as myself is – good writing. The sort where the author chooses to splay whole ideas in the form of long winded disquisitions that even requires the reader to bear out patiently right to the very end – rather than trying to compress everything into just Twitter nano vignettes – will always be a lousy and expensive proposition.
They’re all like aspiring novelists (Or worse still! God please do forbid!—poets), they all rely on teaching and pay anything you like writer’s 101 workshops for a steady income. What they teach is really just to get by to enable to write what they really want or need to write; the paradox is though none of these writers would actually admit it – they’re actually inspiring an eclectic class of writers to write really well in an off beat sort of way. You know the sort of writing that even makes the hair at the back of your neck stand up and shout out – Wow! But most importantly they also encourage a very discerning class of readers who for some reason all seem to wear Burberry and Laura Ashley and give me a coy Holland V look whenever I see them in the library.
No! I don’t imagine good writing or for that matter good journalism can ever be cheap – it’s hardly the brass knuckles that can all add up to a viable living. At times, the entire writers fraternity resembles a wispy romantic yearning from a Proustian period Fin de siècle bordering on les delires des grandeurs and la folie du doute….Many of the essays in the New York Book Review do have that Wildian feel of barbed repartees. Yet this is never a simple transaction between the authority of the pen and the reader. For authors, money, however obscurely, has always been elusive and the stuff of the forlornly.
Hence it’s all too easy to forget that writing especially the sort that is still able to make a well heeled and educated girl in a Burberry scarf laugh uncontrollably only to turn beet root red (I happen to think nothing is as sexy as that…to me at least) will always be expensive and it can never be cheap.
This I imagine will always be somewhat considered as still an effrontery to some unsophisticated quarters – as they regard publishing as just reportage: Literature as just literature.
The danger and this especially heightened in the everything is for free sake internet age – is if those of us remain bovine or worst still unwilling to support the arts and even the craftsman’s along with his trade be it the humble shoemaker, tailor or even truffle scourger – we may lose it all completely and forever.
You know I want to believe that it’s possible to make America great again…I so do…right down to the marrow of my bones…after all how else do you expect a self respecting frontier man to get by in life with made in China buy and throw boots!’
January 20, 2017
Today the most famous Bo Lang Ai (spinster) in the village asked of me whether she should dye her hair. I told this lady, I know nothing of these things – but when on to share with her…if dyeing her hair makes her happy…I see nothing wrong about it. Then she asked of me whether it is a good idea for her to fly to Korea and have a facelift. Again I told this lady…I know nothing of these things and again I went on to share with her…if having a facelift makes her happy….I see nothing wrong about it.
Before this lady left my plantation – I turned her attention to a young palm and told her, do you see it is full of life and vigor, bursting with all of life even….how beautiful. Then as we walked to a grove of older trees. Again I drew this lady’s attention to a row of older palms and this time I told her – do you see how majestic and steady they all look….that is because they have seen the coming and passing of so many seasons that they bear the scars of having lived thru the good and bad times….the lady asked me there and then…what are you trying to tell me?
My point is in every stage of life, there is exceptional beauty that is unique and particular to only that timeline and age…and one would do well to see appreciate the full extent of it’s beauty….and not to swept away by the vapid and superficiality of the world. As that is not real. Neither is it sustainable or even a reflection of what life is all about.
Once you know who you are. You will see and appreciate this beauty even if the world is content to chase after the superficial.
I went on to tell this bereft lady – let the world do what it wants to do! You don’t have to sign up for the package.
Perhaps what I am trying to convey here is when one is at peace with this beauty that every stage of life offers then suddenly many things in this world will suddenly lose it’s meaning. This does not mean, you are living less of what life can offer you….it just means you are now living the way you want to live and not always distracted to please others.
In life it pays to be a bit thick skinned. As if one is thin skinned, then one can only be swept away by the expectations and opinions of others. Soon one will only end up living for their sake.
Do what matters most to you; do what makes you feel alive and happy. Providing you are not harming people and planet. There is no wrong there. That’s your right.
Never allow the expectations and ideas of others to limit who you are or who you aspire to be.
If you don’t write down in bold letters who you are. Then others will tell you who you are and even where the limits of your life should start and end. Soon you will be living their reality — not yours.
To do all this requires deep spirited internal confidence that can only come from knowing who you really are. Become a whole being. Be adventurous.
January 19, 2017
Q: You have always been critical of the present government for letting George Yeo go. Why do you see his role as so jugular to our time?
A: This hardly requires detailed elaboration. For the very first time since possibly Lincoln, Trump will perhaps be the most divisive President in US history. This does not bode well for either the US or for that matter the world or even Singapore as this is the opposite of a much needed unifying moment.
I see this moment as a very polarization and divisive chapter in human history.
No doubt divisions have always existed between the US and China stretching all the way back to even Bill Clinton’s era. But in the past it could be said these divergent interest and points of views were never ever amplified to such a dangerous degree or even sharpened that it threatened the strategic importance of keeping the status quo or at least settling on some form of tacit understanding for détente to preserve the status quo ante.
But understand this! Trump & Co has already done a lot of damage – such as threatening to review the one China policy and recently there has even been talk of stopping China from weaponizing the SCS. In my considered opinion – all this loose cannon talk just heightens the risk.
In times like this there is a need for professionals like General Yeo to bring a nuanced approach to resolving conflict.
Q: What do you think about Vivian Balakrishnan in fulfilling that ‘nuanced’ role?
A: Please understand I genuinely want to be polite. In fact, I think Vivian Balakrishnan is one of those perennially underrated ministers who unfortunately did not get much credit in any of his portfolio’s simply because they were all tough as tungsten nails. Nonetheless he definitely has strengths, but my feel is when it comes to breadth of knowledge concerning the intrigues of Sino American relationships, appreciation of Realpolitik, Intellectual fire power and most importantly stature, prestige and capacity to influence no one comes close to General Yeo.
Q: What about Mini Lee? And how serious is the geo political situation concerning China’s occupation of the SCS?
A: Let me be very blunt this time. As it seems I am not getting my message across effectively – if you want good results never get a sheep to do a fox’s job!
That’s all you are going to get from me concerning Mini Lee and his métier.
As I mentioned there is a clear and present risk – what I think most people don’t seem to appreciate is how precarious the situation is in the SCS theatre. Recently, Reuters reported that a Xian H-6 long range precision bomber with a payload of atomics was flown to the edge of the dash line. Now to most people, this may well be a big nothing – but for those who understand the intricacies of the art of war and the bureaucracy of statecraft in the Chinese communist oligarchy, this in my considered opinion can only be interpreted as an escalation of hostilities that the world has not seen since the Cuban missile crisis.
It seems we are living in very interesting times.
Q: Is it true to say it is your belief – the one China policy should never be used as a bargaining chip? My second question is what is it that is so disconcerting to you about China deciding to fly a bomber to the SCS?
A: I feel compelled to point out time and again that I do not share many of the Republican candidate’s policy positions concerning the priori position to revisit the One China policy – only because this is a subject that comes encrusted with historicism. Many of which I feel compelled to point out in the strongest possible terms is not only a source of perennial shame, humiliation and pain to China on a national scale, but it is also one of strategic priority that China will prosecute to it’s logical end even if it means she will incur penalties.
I refer to both conventional and economic penalties.
I for one remain unconvinced that Mr Trump appreciates the depth of history that is associated with the One China policy.
This is a failing common to the west, as it is often seen as geo politics. But in China, the one China policy is a form of spiritual nationalism approaching the bounds of religion.
So I think if you want to split hairs on religion – people can only get very emotive and even irrational and in some cases they will even cut off their noses to spite you. That in a nutshell is my concern.
It is worth mentioning. Every time I talk with my friends in Europe and the US, I find that hardly anyone appreciates the resolve of the Chinese when it comes to their seriousness concerning the one china policy. The discussion is always couched in terms of territorial claim that frequently elides history – this I feel is a very serious omission on the part of the part of the West to assume that everything can be tabled for discussion or negotiation – my feel is they have not been diligent in either their intelligence gathering and most importantly analysing this aspect of the Chinese psyche.
As unity. Or shall I say the seeming appearance of unity in the national context has always been a matter of strategic precondition to the Chinese leadership stretching all the way back to the Imperial days. If one takes the trouble to peruse thru the long history of China, every single aspect of governance is streamed to prioritizes unity. Everything from the physical of the Great Wall to the intellectual is designed to create a united China.
Many intelligence analyst today seem to have conveniently forgotten what once sadly transpired in Tiannanmen square in the eighties – in my humble opinion this chapter of history should be required reading material for anyone who desires to understand the importance of unity to the Chinese leadership.
So with that reality in the foreground how far do you think Mr Trump is going to go by trying to use the one china policy as a bargaining chip?
Based on my understanding of the Chinese leadership there is no possibility of Balkanization in China. I don’t deny that may have once transpired spectacularly with the USSR, but for history to repeat itself in China is simply impossible as they are so many built in safeguards to interdict that sort of social cultural implosion – not even the in the autonomous regions of Tibet, Xinjiang or for that matter Hong Kong or Taiwan.
Q: To my second question – what is it that is so disconcerting to you about China deciding to fly a bomber to the SCS?
A: I have already answered that question – as that act by itself is the clearest demonstration of China’s resolve to use every means including atomics to defend it’s right to plant a flag on the SCS.
It is the decision making process that should prompt every perceptive observer to sit at the edge of their seats – as this is not something that can be done at a localized command level – it would logically involve at least seven to eight layers of lengthy discussion at a party political level then it would filter down to the executive arm. The fact that they can mobilize within such a short period of time can only point to only a few decision nexus, this scenario has been war gamed, that is to say the various permutations have been played out. Standard pre-emptive protocols are already in place to facilitate lighting response. Launch and priming codes are sequenced in such a way as to avoid lengthy bureaucratic friction.
This is not a play play scenario. This is very serious to people who know warcraft.
Please understand I am not for one moment saying war is imminent – only you have to understand the SCS is a new theatre unlike Kashmir, the 38 parallel or the West Bank. There currently exist no rules of engagement. No historical precedent as to what each side is supposed to do or not do under X,Y or Z conditions.
It’s not like happy Kashmir where the Pakistanis fire off a salvo of 155’s at half past one before breaking off for tea and popadoms then everyone ambles into their fox holes followed by a return salvo of shells from the Indians at exactly three sharp and on Eid and Devali they even have a ceasefire and play a bit of cricket.
Many many bad things can and will happen in the SCS. Things can be taken out of context. Conflict can escalate beyond control.
There is a pressing need in my opinion for a Nixon and Mao moment to restore global harmony so that everyone can sleep soundly. To accomplish this with finesse and immaculate skill very very serious men are needed – this is the time for the Singapore government to set aside it’s ego and simply ask themselves one question – who can best step into this shoe.
To me politics is like organized crime – emotion is a luxury! As I said, don’t ever get a sheep to do a fox’s job.
Q: What is your primary concern with Trump?
A: I don’t think my primary concern is necessary framed in the short term – that is true not only of Trump, but also Brexit as well. As when we speak presently, it is my firm belief people in the US and the UK are still hopeful.
I am not only talking about those who voted for Trump and Brexit. There is certainly denial there of the economic reality that makes up modern trade and commerce. But for those who are vexed and demonstrate aghast over Trump – I also see elements of denial as well.
As they don’t seem to want to come to terms with how free trade and globalization has produced inequalities that can no longer be denied and must be redressed if it is to remain credible.
As I said, in the short term for both the US and UK. The current economic situation is not as bad as was predicted and they live in hope that things will get better. But as time goes by, it is my belief since the expectations of the electorate is so unhinged from reality and the custodian of power cannot possibly be the purveyor of their hopes and dreams, currency will depreciate, inflation will bite further, jobs will not return home, living standards will continue to decline and the aperture for upward mobility will be further constricted as the global economy moves towards stasis.
This is going to take some time, but happen it surely will as free trade and globalization is so entrenched at a systematic level that any attempt to change it will surely be violent – and when that day comes there will be plenty of angry people who will not only feel cheated but they will lose all hope in the idea of government and possibly even veer towards isolationism.
Q: So is it right to say you are more afraid of the post Trump era?
A: Yes, I think most thinkers have already moved on – Trump and Brexit is already a done deal. Now in my considered opinion there remains only a few questions on the table. How much damage will the global economy be able to sustain without falling apart? How will the US electorate react when Trump fails to deliver on so many of his pie in the sky promises? Will they actually blame him? Or will they themselves assume some level of culpability to blame themselves?
I am not optimistic. As history has shown time and again – disaffected, marginalized and especially ignorant people will likely direct their anger at an imaginary foe and all the signs suggest that China may have to bear the brunt of this tsunami of unfulfilled hopes and aspirations.
For now, and for the foreseeable future, the future certainly looks very bleak.
Q: Do you see Trump heralding the return of fascism? And if so how would you rate this apparent threat?
A: No! no! I think most people have the wrong end of the stick. Let me be frank – the threat of fascism is not as real and present as the threat that the democratic electoral system has managed to produced these set of undesirable results. I for one am inclined to believe democracy might not longer be sustainable any longer.
Bear in mind Trump won the Republican nomination because more people voted for him than voted for anyone else. Democracy was furiously at work there. Donald Trump won the presidential election because enough people voted for him in enough states. Again democracy was furiously at work there. And you could even say it is the same with Brexit – it was a democratic referendum. In both of this cases, no one can say without running the risk of discrediting themselves, democracy did not work the way it was supposed to, although it produced exactly the opposite of the result it was meant to produce.
Now this to me is a historical development of sorts – because since Plato’s Republic, the democratic process has proven to be a very robust and reliable way to winnow good from bad leaders. Not it seems the process may have failed.
So of course this has to be disturbing at some many levels.
Q: If democracy is no longer a reliable means to perpetuate political hegemony – then what do you see as the credible alternative?
A: I don’t for one moment believe completely democracy is done for. Bear in mind, this is not new – as both Mussolini and Hitler also came into power via the democratic process. But even after the end of WW 2 – there was a great movement of pan European introspection spearheaded by the Beveridge commission that was quite brutal in it’s account of how many of the Europeans had planted the seeds of fascism which culminated in WW2 by imposing the harsh dicta on the Weimar Republic in the Treat of Versailles.
Unfortunately the same intellectual resolve or spirit or whatever you wish to term it seems to be sorely lacking in the Trump win – you don’t see the neo liberal elites interrogating either why or how so many seemingly level headed and reasonable Americans voted for Trump. Neither do you hear Paul Krugman, Michael Porter or for that matter any of the adherents of globalization and free trade suggesting that they are willing to accept even one molecule of culpability for this outcome that they all prefer to term as an aberration. That to me has to be worrisome. As it suggest there is only a few possibilities here, one the water supply system in the West is contaminated with mind bending drugs or that many of these intellectuals much prefer to live in their own reality of denial.
Q: To what extent will the economic slowdown in China affect it’s foreign policy towards the US?
A: You know when it comes to China – I don’t think one can delineate cleanly between their domestic and foreign policy, it’s really one of the same reality, where it could be said domestic policy exerts a gravity on foreign policy and vice versa – that’s only to be expected you have to factor in the immense scale, diversity and complexity whenever we speak about China.
As it stands today – the Chinese leadership is trying to engineer a soft landing on the economic front. Of course all this is not even widely published in China as information is controlled and filtered. But their economy is definitely not in the pink of health – I think they expanded too fast especially in the property sector and debt along with cost of capital and inflation will continue to militate against even the best plans to conceive a soft landing. This is definitely a matter of great concern on the domestic front and that is why the Chinese want status quo when it comes to trade with the West.
The problem is Trump seems to be laying down plans for a trade war with China. To be honest with you. I don’t know whether this is all just saber rattling or might it even be something approaching the serious – if it’s the latter then we are likely to see an economic war – where I don’t see any clear winners emerging.
But I digress.
Coming back to your question. Many things are very crumbly and fragile with the Chinese economy – for the very first time there is a reversal of migration from the coastal cities back to the countryside. Again this news is not widely reported. There is also the issue of the succession plan of the fifth generation leaders that has recently been put on hold by Xi – this suggest there might be schism within the oligarchy of the Chinese communist party. There is also the complexity of having to deconstruct and retool many of the state owned oligarchies that have grown so powerful and all pervasive that it has become a form of spiritualism resembling religion in China. I mean in China – what many westerners don’t seem to comprehend is it is communism is not just a political philosophy based on ideology, it is very much a way of life that happens to nourish millions of Chinese. Of course in the west, if we use modern accounting techniques, we would provably consider these state owned oligrachs as zombie outfits – but in China, certain sacred cow industries such as coal, steel and the many appendages of the PLA is really the equivalent of Temasek Holdings – so it’s conceivable these set pieces can never change – as they happen to be an indelible reality of the DNA that holds the country together. That simply means even if the Chinese leadership want to change these set pieces, they will have to work around the labyrinth of power and politics…it’s going to be uphill for Xi and his crew to jump start the domestic economy without the rest of the world.
Either way China needs the world as badly as the world needs China – that’s reality.
(To be con’t)
January 17, 2017
Where the hell is all this going? Where?…..renegotiate the one China policy? Make a bed with Russia and sleep alongside the likes of Putin? Ratifying the annexation of the West Bank by Israel? Bring back jobs to America even if it spells the impending economic demise of US multinationals? Set aside the Kyoto treaty and allow the world to boil till it resembles the hottest place in hell?
Where is all this going? Where is Henry Kissinger et al?
Who the hell is even in charge of the USA inc? Is anyone even manning the bridge? Is anyone there!
Even organized crime can’t afford to do a fraction of all this! They cannot. Trust me. As when the centre threatens to give right in and suck everything into a black hole – men will convene around a table in the dead of night and ask of each other – can we find a way to live and let live?
This is a form of insanity I have never come across before!
We need to study and research it well to prosper.
January 16, 2017
Anyone I reckon can spot out either a pretty girl or a handsome guy from the crowd. But come on? What does that really say except maybe a big nothing. I guess what I am trying to convey here is the idea how some people who are highly sensitive can look beyond the superficial and usually see things that no one else can ever be part of – like perhaps looking at a young pretty girl and seeing the old woman she will eventually become.
A man with a keener sense of sensitivity I imagine could go two or three steps up the rung of the ladder higher and even trace out either the young man or pretty girl in the old man and crumpled woman.
But a really sensitive man – I mean a five chili sensitive man. The sort that can just sense what’s in your mind even before you can begin conjuring and fleshing out a form in your head.
He can do something quite unusual that no other man can – he can stop time itself. I am not kidding. To even hold eternity in one grain of sand and look at an old shriveled up woman to see her exactly the way she used to be…or to just look into a man’s eyes and see the all the heady hues of the sights and sounds and experiences that once came in and out of his life.
To even read the sardonic hint in his seemingly Cheshire Cat smile. But above all…a really sensitive man has so many many stories.
‘Everyone has a story. Everyone. No one just walks over the hill and there and then the story of their life starts in earnest. That’s not how it is and don’t ever believe that version about people….it just means you don’t know their story.
Doesn’t even matter how smart or stupid, fat or slim, educated or how much of a farmer they happen to be. As I said, everyone has a story….and every story is in the relative scale of things in relation to this timeline, what has and will happen and the universe is the most important narrative to the person who wordsmiths this story.
No one’s story is higher or lower, doesn’t even matter whether it is LKY or even the Shah of Iran or I am a legend story…every story stands equal like picket fences that go right on into the horizon and beyond.
Some stories are exciting in the beginning. Others start off slowly and get up to speed eventually somewhere around the time when you’re wondering whether you should put the book down for good – then there are stories with no beginning, middle or even end.
But everyone has a story….and when one begins to understand the story of a life lived only then will the true person emerge – only the most perceptive, sensitive and worldly can read the alphabets that make up the words, sentences and paragraphs of this story….to know people as their stories is to understand, respect and honor them.’
January 15, 2017
Restoring an old Straits era heritage town house doesn’t require one to learn anything new. Not at all. If anything it is a process that requires one to unlearn how one usually plans and proceeds with building works in the 21st century.
Old methods of building have to be reclaimed and brought back to life. For example concrete and cement is no good – lime is the way to go. Try to shortcut it and in a few years, it will all crack and give way and one is right back where one once started.
Do it right. Granted it may be prove painful and at times even slow but at least it will last for another one hundred years….but all this requires knowledge and above all understanding of a bygone age when artisans took great pride in the idea of dignity of labor.
These days many of the tradesman and joiners have all but disappeared. Only the cowboys and short cut con artist armed with power tools seem to dominate the market.
This has led me to do my own research.
Me and the happy contractor standing before the shop lot.
‘To gainfully make progress in work, life and play. Society has successfully scripted all of us to believe fast is good, fasterer is even better and eating chicken rice, SMSing on the go and working is the best – this the cult of the instant 2 minute maggi markets as the most reliable way for one to lead fulfilled lives – we all need to throw out the old and buy into the new, it seems. To put it in another way, to always pry open our brains like a can of sardines only to pour in the new and improved in the hope that it will all get better…can only be better.
But at times to make meaningful headway by running an enterprise to managing relationships with our boss, parents or even our dearest other . All we need to do is UNLEARN many of the robotic ways along with modern thinking that has managed to encrust themselves mindlessly into our way of life.
This process of letting go is very unnatural for most – as we have all been schooled to take exceptional pride in the knowledge we have spent so much time and energy and opportunity cost to accumulate all our lives….hence letting go is not easy. As it requires us to first come to terms with our ego along with cultivating the highest level of honesty and patience with oneself.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying all old things and methods are necessarily good……only to live well. One would do well never to opt for ‘new’ or ‘improved’ blindly and mechanically. As in life many good things don’t ever change….the conditions that fosters love and respect between two people…they don’t change….the way good shoes are made…they don’t change either. The time it takes to cook a wholesome and delicious meal…that hasn’t changed at all. The factors that nourishes real friendship…they also don’t change.
Many things it seems don’t ever change and once these good things are thrown away….it is not a case of grabbing them from the tool box again. As usually they are lost forever.
Research and study this well. As it applies to all things in life. Above all know the value of good and valuable things….as if they come to you….it is a privilege to be savory and not to be mindlessly rushed over…don’t follow the crowd. Go with what you know to be true and worthy. Above all take your time about it.’
January 14, 2017
Trump’s win has definitely shaken the four corners of the world. There is no doubt about that – what will he do? No one knows…I suspect not even Trump himself knows what he will eventually do or decide not to do.
But if there is any redeeming quality to Mr Trump’s unexpected and shocking win – it is simply this…there is finally the recognition, things can no longer go on the way it used to be….the elites can no longer brush this aside a kink in their plans. Neither can they dismiss it as a one off either.
The stakes are simply too high.
For the very first time since the inception of globalization and free trade as a school of thought…many will have to reflect deeply on how best to proceed forward….and that in my humble opinion may not be such a bad thing for both people and planet.
‘I don’t believe bad can be so bad that it can entirely squeeze out every drop of the good. That’s not how the world works! It only seems that way – as usually even in the very bad…there is good to be found IF one looks hard enough.
People who you love with all your heart, treat you badly, so that you can leave, heal and find a better soulmate. Friends change thru time, so that you can learn to stand on your own two feet and rely on yourself. Things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right. You get conned and lied too so that you can learn to trust yourself and be suspicious of others, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.
Try always to see the good in people, events and things. Nothing in this world is either completely good or bad. This is the yin and yang of the way of the world.’
January 13, 2017
I am in the city to meet up with the association of vegetarian restaurant proprietors. They have all engaged my services to look into the rising cost of vegetables and how to make them tastier. As lately the freaky weather seems to be only good for yielding tasteless super expensive veggies.
They are all very happy to see me. They offered me a lot to eat.
After that I went to meet up with the management of an up market department store that runs a speciality food outlet – they want me to set up a high tech iceberg lettuce farm.
Again they were all very happy to see me as well. Again they too offered me a lot to eat and drink as well.
I don’t normally eat during the day time. On this occasion, I made an exception…..I don’t think I can move now.
Eventually I did manage to walk to my car. Thereafter I meet up with a group of super rich city ladies who all wanted me to give a talk on how to start and maintain a herb garden.
Again they were all ecstatic and very happy to see me as well.
Since none of them could cook – I cooked for everyone….I ate again. Now I definitely can’t move any longer.
January 12, 2017
Our man is finally in the slot. He is 100% brotherhood. He is guild….it is not perfect. As I am told he is an oil man, but nevertheless surely he knows our discipline and the importance of common good and most importantly unity – we must close ranks….this is the time to set our differences asides, especially the cosca’s – we will stand in one line and set aside our differences.
This after all is our way, when the council has made a decision.
The TPP will be passed. The date is April 22. I want to be clear. I oppose the TPP. Personally. But if it is necessary as the Council says for Singapore’s survival then I shall keep quiet….very quiet.
You will not hear a word from me.
Understand this! I was not here. This conversation never took place….send the scorpion sign.
This is wisdom. Obey me… I am Darkness 2016.
‘Some years back ago when I mentioned the world is changing…it is not the way it used to be. Even then I could not have possibly foreseen either the waywardness of the trajectory or for that matter – the breakneck speed of change. Neither was I mentally prepared for the sudden and unexpected advent of the class divide – by even our most conservative estimations – all this would only occur circa 2020.’
January 11, 2017
For one to play well. One would do well to familiarize oneself with how the game is actually played….it would seem all that one really requires is the rules of how the game is played. Like perhaps how placing a chip on a red slot – pays out half, if the ivory ball lands on a red slot in the roulette wheel. Or should one decide to plumb for a numbered slot, it pays out triple should it hit home.
Yes….those I imagine at one level of understanding may well be all there is to the rules that make up a game of roulette.
But even if one chooses to be suspicious surely it’s conceivable there could be other rules along with other books that make the rules.
Now one more time please if you will – in your own time of course….are you ready?
For one to play well. One would do well to familiarize oneself with how the game is actually played….
‘What I consider stranger than strange. That even manages to transport the word strange beyond it’s dictionary meaning is how Africans who don’t even know ABC. Or who think fridges are just nice cupboards to put clothes in seem to always have a better appreciation of finances – for one they always insist on gold.
That’s why if one wants to buy ivory, contraband coffee beans during the off season or maybe a Russian Mig 21 jet – it always pays to have a few kilo’s of gold bars.
Modern man specifically those who lay claim to sterling education and even regularly boast of being well read ALL without a single exception suffer from either a delusional or an atrocious appreciation of what is really money…value or utility.
I guess one reason for this brain leaching may have something to do with how nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else’s brain or opinion these days – till at some point, the disembodied mind becomes so saturated with nonsense it can only become impossible to learn the truth about money along with the politics and power of how governments and corporations conjure up the seeming illusion of value in it’s various delectable forms concerning – value, holding power right down to how km he defines the individual and organizational success.
In such a society where value is so scripted in such a manner to only benefit governments and corporations – our real wealth will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon institutional abstraction and corporate mumbo jumbo – here in the never never land of the financial supermarket – individual control over one’s finances is often illusionary and futile – as since the concept of value is further spliced into ever finer forms of abstractions such as housing loans, Medicare, pension funds, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, convertible bonds and shares.
And as our conception of value becomes that much more abstract so does our capacity to seek real financial liberation.
Hence for all our preoccupation about freedom and autonomy, there remains few choices that we are free to make. As since
political power is inextricably aligned to wealth in it’s inception. This alignment can only serve to destroy the wealth of the commons….now you know why the African is much more level headed chap than the best city slicker – after all, when was the last time you say him putting a downpayment on a pigeon hole. A space in air? Or for that matter splurging out a princely sum on a car that maybe cost less than 10K to manufacture?
No…. By every known definition – he has to be a very smart sort of fellow.’
January 11, 2017
A long time back ago. I raised Boonyi when her mummy didn’t return back to the nest. She was just a baby eagle then, could even fit into my breast pocket. Fashioned a head of a mommy eagle with old socks and plastic bottle caps – fed her so well that when she grew up, Boonyi became big and strong so much so she preferred to walk around and impersonate my dogs.
Eventually Boonyi grew so big I had to release her back into the wild – but eagles are crafty, they’re all born with a GPS and can always find their way back home. On one occasion when she was badly shot up and peppered with pellets – she crash landed in my plantation house and I patched her up.
Shortly after that she took right off again.
That was about three years ago – haven’t seen her since then. Till this morning when the dogs were barking frantically. When I rush out to check, it was Boonyi – she was strutting around like she always does in the yard again.
Don’t get me wrong. I am glad to see my old friend Boonyi again….elated even. But my joy is tinged with a keen sense of trepidation – as I know the nature of eagles well.
As they don’t ever return home unless something has spooked the shit out of them – and trust me eagles are up there at the top of the food chain…they don’t get frightened easily…so whatever it is…it’s probably has loads of razor sharp teeth and claws and it’s probably headed this way.
The more I looked into Boonyi’s frightened liquid brown eyes – the more they seem to express….farmer, something evil comes this way….I am very afraid.
It’s going to be another hard year at farming I reckon….possibly even harder than last year.
‘Its very hard to get people excited about protecting the environment. Especially when they all seem to think it’s some dystopian future that has quite landed on planet earth yet…like maybe an alien invasion that’s yet to happen. But I don’t ever see the destruction of the planet as futurescape or for that matter anything that is predicated on tomorrow.
It’s happening right before my eyes and I see it everyday. No correction. I HAVE to see it everyday – you see I am like one those WW1 foot soldiers knee deep in mud stuck in a trench with shells exploding all around me. That’s how a farmer sees himself whenever weather boffins quibble endlessly about whether we have finally reached the tipping point.
It’s very hard to bear out patiently all these talk not without the help of 40% proof alcohol…single malts work well for me – we’re all like battle scared soldiers…people who always seem marooned in their own skull even when they find themselves in the bosom of one of those sappy saccharine laced save the planet meets – where everyone always seems so perfidious faced eager with their beaming smiles and sparkling white teeth – always ready, set to go – to demonstrate their willingness to assume the multitude of worldly guilts that may account for the real and imagined threats to our environment.
Usually by the time I had my third shot of whisky from a Starbucks non degradable polycarbonate cup that can last 200 million without ever decomposing give or take a couple of million years….usually that’s when I really begin to enjoy those meets.
If I didn’t know better perhaps I could take some measure of comfort somewhere in the velvety folds of the rah rah brigades deceptively reassuring message that they’re really interested to save people and planet.
I pour myself another drink…this time I don’t even bother hiding the bottle any longer.
Truth is like folk who have never experienced the hardship of actual combat – I know the only reason why they’re all too willing to assume guilt is simply because – it’s a way…even if it’s only a cockememe way..it’s nonetheless a way…a way for them to continue believing in that great lie – that it all depends on us! So we can also save ourselves from impending doom by simply changing our lifestyles by opting for hemp bags, trying to eek out a full year out from our yarn slippers made with tender loving care by vietnamese peasants who still work under the wan of lard powered lamps, munch on organic lettuce, using only one sheet of tissue paper and no more to wipe our ass.
You know the more I attend these meets…the more I am convinced I may actually be here for reasons other than to save the planet…if only knew what? I take another swig from the bottle.
I guess it’s their way to believe or maybe be part of a belief system that’s somehow larger than everyone here – so big that it might swallow us whole to make us believe that it could all make a difference.
This I term blob mentality – where everyone is a small blob and when enough blobs get together it just supplants every single individual thought and poof! It’s just the blob!
Truth is we all co-create our own reality like the fabled fan who supports his team alongside other fans watching some big screen TV, shouting and jumping from time to time whenever good seems to trump over evil – and when it goes the other way, we all sigh in the solidarity of the resignation, as if by being part of this mass delusion – we can somehow influence the game’s final outcome.
Not realizing even so much as once – it’s conceivable, that’s all we can ever do – hope that things will get better. It seems even when mankind is reduced to the role of a passive observer he’s never content to simply take his sit and watch what our fate will be. To avoid the gnawing feeling…suspicion…that all this could be for nought. In a desperate attempt to escape the tragedy of his own self imposed hypocrisy – he cheers harder this time and even shouts out at the top of voice….tomorrow will be better than today.
Now you all know why I don’t go to these meets any longer and much prefer to keep to myself. Truth is – they kicked me out…as when it was time for me to speak. I was completely plastered.
The world is certainly ending….It’s at it’s last turn…the proverbial coda and I am glad to still belong to it…for as long as it last.’
January 10, 2017
In the moment of my youth. I believed to make the world a better place – I had to stand up on a soap box and shout out the truth as loud as I could till my lungs hurt. But as I grow older. I realize it’s conceivable that belief may have been misplaced and possibly even downright wrong.
If the imperative is to save people and planet….it could well be a very private matter that doesn’t require any shouting at all. Rather it is quite an unexciting and mundane process that requires one to work on oneself daily and to allow the goodness within the self to grow like a tree to reach out beyond to the outer world.
Maybe that is a surer way of saving people and planet.
‘I am inclined to see a revolution as a very quiet, low key and private affair – for me, it’s never full frontal and right in your face like Joshua Wong and Amos Yee. It’s the opposite of big, brash and loud – minuscule and seemingly insignificant to a point where it may not even be register with anyone except maybe yourself and perhaps your pet goldfish.
You know I own two parcels of land – one is here and the other is over there. Every time I need to travel…usually, I drive my diesel guzzling four by four, it’s noisy and I imagine if you add up all the trips, it has to be awfully toxic to the planet as well. Recently I made a commitment to use my car less and get on my bike more. So these days I commute mostly by bicycle.
It’s a very small revolution to save people and planet…so small that it may not even seem to make a difference….but that’s how I see it.
Did the same by cutting down on toxic herbicides last year from sixty gallons to virtually zero – as I am mindful of how herbicides can poison groundwater and even leach into the rivers to eventually affect wildlife and ultimately transform humans into zombies.
That involved researching extensively on how to use friendly weeds to suppress aggressive weeds – many trials were conducted…many failures, but one strain survived and thrived, so now if you visit my plantation, you’ll see a lot of cover crop, it’s very green and maybe a bit messy – but don’t let it all fool you – as a quiet revolution is occurring right before you – the good weeds are slowly and surely killing off the bad – this can only improve yield and produce safe crops without having to cannibalize and ultimately leave the land dead and lifeless….above all it’s ecologically sustainable….maybe I will publish a paper in the agronomy journal some day. Maybe not – again it’s a very quiet revolution with just one nondescript man plodding along planting strange weeds in one obscure corner of the world…far removed from the panoptical spot lights of the pineapple eyes of the world.
My point is real revolutions are very small, often seemingly insignificant even….but like the bicycle and good weeds don’t let mere appearances fool you – as it all adds up and if more people can do simple things like consume less…it can be a very big revolution.
As at times even the most mundane and uninspiring of acts such as waking up and joining the rest of the human race to work, may well be an act that requires nothing short of uncommon valor and courage. As life can be challenging and requires nothing short of a personal revolution to get on top off. The father who skips lunch so that his kids can have an extra dollop of ice cream. The mother who waits patiently in the hot sun for her kids after school – the family man who continues to smile and brings laughter to his kids even though he realizes the future doesn’t seem that bright….as the world is changing not for the better, but the worse.
Like I said that how it is – real revolutions are all quiet, small and often so whisper silent that they might just past you by.
Well that’s all for now….it’s five in the morning…the sun will break soon. I need to dress up and fight the good fight. Have a nice day in the land of the small revolutions.’
January 9, 2017
I will build it, 15 foot longer and maybe 3 foot wider, plan to have it on 14 foot stilts suspended in the air – the extra space would be to store farming stuff. As for the space below I can use it as a car park and a shelter for my dogs to either laze around or dry out during the rainy season.
Being raised that high is important in the tropics. As firstly, it’s super cool during the dry season and will not be prone to dampness and creepy crawlies….very clean.
Project Difficulty: 8
I like this idea of a platform to either laze around, read a book or maybe just chill. I like it very much. I even know where to get hold of Connolly leather as I have good connections with tanneries due to my past work experience as a shoe artist. Project difficulty, maybe 6.
Dark, sombre and minimalist lines naturally appeals to my nature….I am not so sure about the bin though.
This I like very much and can build without too much fuss. I especially like the spartan feel of the whole set up. Project difficulty: 2.
Since the shelter will be off the grid – I will only have six hours of solar powered battery time, which means lighting would have to be supplemented with candle power.
I am not too bothered about heat build up. As during the night it’s usually freezing in a plantation. I guess I could rig up a generator – but my feel is that would add unnecessary clutter to the whole philosophy of a shelter…that is to live a minimalist life that is always kind and considerate to Mother Nature.
Project difficulty: 1
This I consider the piece de resistance – an island cook module complete with raised skylight and an oven – this I absolutely cannot do without and shall copy 100% right down to the last rivet. As cooking is meditation to me. I rarely ever eat out as I am a professional chef and nothing gives me more pleasure than to cook at the end of hard day’s work – with the oven I can bake cookies as well….again not so sure about the bin.
Project difficulty: 5
“No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.
Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.
Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,
sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecha es mía,
tan cerca que cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.”
January 8, 2017
I like this very much.
I plan to build myself such a house on my new land to the West. It will definitely not be as high end. As I want keep cost super low. That means I will build it out of scrap that I will probably scrounge around the junkyard and remake to be pretty.
I am excellent with my hands can – technical climb, fashion pulleys and winches to lift heavy stuff, weld, plumb, tile, wire, brick lay and work expertly with a mallet and chisel to fit wooden joints without nails.
I plan to work on it once I cut down the old palms and begin growing bananas for a change.
It will be fun and functional and I imagine ultimately necessary in the long run to have such a shelter entirely powered by solar and batteries. That would certainly give me loads of options – to stay there overnight or maybe a few days instead of having to drive all the way back to the plantation house – to cook a bit or just as a place to sit and relax under a tree with a bottle of chilled white wine. Or maybe I will just take a nap in the cool embrace of nature.
‘I put myself thru university by holding down a wide variety of jobs. I wasn’t too picky. Anything that paid. I took gladly. At that time I just saw it as a hard grind…a dogs life…a lowly soldiers lot – as I was always tired and no matter how hard I scrubbed. I always seemed to have dirt underneath my nails and smell of grease – while the rest of the other students all looked so clean and well rested and carefree.
I remembered those days as mostly cold and muggy – heartless even with steely clouds that for some reason always resembled the harshness of steel wool – in the early morn when I would trudge to work I would often look up at the godless sky….it always seemed so dark and angry then.
But as I grow older for some reason the clouds look softer. Benevolent and at times playful. Maybe it’s all coming back…the good stuff that I once considered bad.
I guess what I am trying to say is I am very thankful for all that work experience. I now understand….I understand completely.
As a tower technician. I learnt how to climb confidently and safely in rain, sleet and snow without ever peeing in my pants. When I worked as a technician in a nuclear plant – I learnt how to work safely and respect things that can kill in a blink of an eye. As a carpenter. I learnt the discipline of keeping all my tools always razor sharp, clean and well oiled. As a shoe artist – I learnt the importance of having the end in mind from the very beginning. As an undertaker I learnt how to dress impeccably to pay respect to the dead, living and institutions and to always carry myself in a serious way. As a bodyguard. I learnt how to anticipate danger and to trust only my instincts. As a game keeper I learnt how to remain still for hours like a lifeless stone and to kill with only one shot to the head. As a dog handler for a security firm, I learnt that proud Alsatians will only obey your commands – if you respect yourself first and foremost. When I worked as a sewerage inspector – I learnt that dirt was never something a working man should ever be ashamed of no matter how others may look or treat you. As cook in a Cantonese restaurant. I learnt how whip up a meal in two minutes flat with orders coming in fast and furious. As a welder I learnt never to look directly into the arc and to only see with my ears by how the arc crackles and hisses as it liquifies steel. As a gardener, I learnt how to read the secrets and mysteries of each season and to bear out with great patience the unfolding beauty of nature that I eventually learn to love as it’s sentinel. As a lift mechanic. I learnt how to humor and tame cantankerous machines and came to regard them as people with quirks.
Nothing it seems is ever wasted in life – not even if it seems a litany of grind – the most important thing is never to get hung up on status, prestige or to impose limits on oneself by saying – you can only do this and that is for people beneath you.
Absolutely nothing is ever wasted in life. Not even the hard and difficult times. As it will always come back like the proverbial boomerang.
Experience all things in life….the more the better. As it shall make you worldly and wise in the way of the working man.’
January 8, 2017
Last night I was asked to share my point of view on the likes of Alvin Tan and Amos Yee to a bunch of brainless youths. Who all seem to think these two characters are the best thing that appeared in the Singapore scene since the advent of kaya bread with Nutella.
This is my take.
‘Seniors are talking here. So sit down and Shaddap, before you all fall down and make fools of yourself. Remember seniors are talking. If you all want to continue to talk then let me know I will happily go away and wash dishes or light an incense stick or whatever….OK.
You see it is very simple. I am not saying that these people don’t have a right to do what they are doing – if you ask for my point of view – it’s no big deal man.
You want to share pics of your pecker in instagram. No big deal lah. You want to stand up on a soap box and proclaim to the whole wide world if you don’t slouch and stand up straight. You stand two inches taller! No big deal either.
But the question here is how effective is that? How many people are you really going to get to buy into your conception of what is right or wrong?
Now a smarter way to accomplish all this with a Big Bang – is to first study hard, get a good job, earn and invest well and at some point start your own enterprise.
Be so good at it that you will even end up owning your own private jet, island retreat and if possible even consider starting your own foundation like George Soros, Aga Khan, Rockefeller et al.
Then once you’re on the top of the hill – then and only then, do whatever you want to do.
You want to know what? No one will bat an eyelid. Absolutely no one – as at that level of the game. You own everyone. Governments don’t like what you’re doing. OK very simple, I will pull out jobs out of your banana republic. Shut down enterprises and pack up like a traveling circus. How’s that? Don’t like me some more. OK I will get my attorneys to buy up a majority stake in Youtube, to filter information….and while I am at it, I will ban you! Still don’t like what I am doing? OK I will charter a heavy lift cargo plane fill it to the ceiling with gold bars and give it to the Russians on the condition they convenient engineer regime change. Still want to hassle me? Still want to put me in jail? OK I will buy Fox TV and CNN and forward my version of the truth against yours. I will also buy up Saatchi & Saatchi to further add spin on engineering consent on the mass and industrial scale. Buy all the stock pictures in this world of cute Panda’s and all the lovable furry animals to leverage on soft power…some more want?
Do you know this what really effective people will do to fashion their designs, especially if they are passionate about effecting real change in their lifetime.
Coming to think of it – do you ever see the free masons, Bilderberg Group, Bohemian Club, 322, Illuminati or Opus Dei posting stupid videos online just to get hits? Coming to think of it do you ever see the Mercantile Interspacing Guild doing all these things.
No…no…Never! They don’t ever do stupid low mileage things like take on officialdom with just two bucks in their pocket and a tube of Mentos – that’s infanticide…use your mentality!
These are very serious agents of change. Not like amateur night folk like you lot.
And don’t ask me how I know about such worldly affairs – because if I tell you. Men with no necks will rappel down Blackhawk helicopters and we would disappear from the face of this planet….poof!
My point gentlemen is there’s always a game plan that involves strategy, planning along with execution to move from the domain of theory to reality. The process is cold, calculating and very deliberate. Above all it’s conducted with stealth. The power of utmost invisibility.
That’s what effective people always do! They first position themselves to win! Not lose.
Above all they first work on themselves to be high performers and very effective people.
They don’t do stupid things like work as a waiter or crowd fund for their next meal – what kinda of stupid logic might that be! Think about it whether I put in an eight hour shift as a waiter or someone who is able to make decent money is exactly the bloody same – but the pay out is very different.
And this brings into focus one of the most important way points for positioning yourself to win – if you’ve got no paper qualifications, no life skills and only seem to get by with super glue and ductape to keep stuff from falling apart because you have no earning power – what kinda of revolution are Jon talking here!
Or all you seem to have is a bunch of imaginary friends who just visit your blog or Facebook page to click on the likes tag bar along with keep saying you’re smart – so what?
What’s the big deal? We all know that’s not real! I mean if you’re thrown in jail on trumped up charges at three in the morning and you call up your Facebook friends – none of them will ever bail you out like Superman. That doesn’t count!
If you think it counts then you’re stupid.
Like I said don’t get me wrong – I am not here to judge whether this is right or wrong. Do you all see me wearing a funny hat like King Solomon? Nope!
I am not here to judge anyone – I am just telling it the way it really is!
All I am saying is if you want to shake up the world – do it with a beginning, middle and end in mind.
Otherwise just put in eight hours of mugging time to get a passable grade in university. Land a cookie cutter job. Learn to say yes sir, no sir three bags full. Put a downpayment on a pigeon hole somewhere in Sengkang. Drive a second hand Toyota Vios and pray three times a day and hang a stainless steel crucifix in your car that no one in a Mercedes decides to do a U turn and drive head on at you at 120 kmh just because he can’t get his accounts to square. Marry a low maintenance girl. Learn to flip an omelette. Reuse your plastic seal bags. Wash your car with one bucket of water and no more. Pay your bills on time. Brush your teeth after every meal. Stay away from Char kuey teow and hope that heavy things don’t drop from the sky and crush you dead….because that is really your lot.
So what if you can speak and write well. But you’re poor. So what if you have the freedom to think whatever you want to think. But you don’t even have the freedom to walk into a restaurant to eat whatever you desire as you keep looking at the price list and finally settle on a cheap salad!
Freedom is wasted on you!
It is nihilism to talk about power and the capacity to influence meaningfully – when one doesn’t even have the power to take a cab and have to settle for a bicycle on a cold winter’s day.
If….if you don’t take my advise. Now you all see that door? Take a good look at it. I am walking right thru it. Bye Bye.
Just remember if and that’s a very big if….if you get that private executive jet drop me a line – as I have some ideas on how to shake up the world. But like I said, if it’s going to be a meetup at KFC on buy one get another free nite followed by Mengelembu ground nuts with ten people going Dutch. Then Dowan lah. As it will never ever come around…never!’
January 7, 2017
Today I got into a very heated exchange with a bunch of really naive, good hearted zero streetwise folk who were all trying their best to recruit me by asking me to join them to raise funds for Mr Amos Yee.
I told these very naive people, not only am I not going to give one cent to Amos Yee. But I will also do everything within my power and range of influence in and outside the internet to stop others from doing so.
When these zero streetwise IQ goody two shoes folk asked me why am I so evil?
I simply told them all – Singapore is a chapter that has finally closed in Mr Yee’s life forever. It is no more. It came to the finality of the end, the very moment he tabled a case for political asylum in the US. And the best thing that all of them can do to assist Mr Yee is to encourage him to make it by his own steam in his new chosen homeland by not reminding him of Singapore any longer – after all, it is no more….a crisp and brand chapter stands before Mr Yee.
I wish him the very best of luck.
Should Mr Yee require any letters of reference to seek employment in ANY farm in the US. Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line – as not only am I a very prominent forummer and active contributor to countless farming forums in the US. I also happen to be a honorary member of the albino cyclops order of the KKK (I don’t think they know I am of Asian descent, just to warn you!) – I will be more than happy to arrange some farmer in Nebraska or Illinois to post him a spade and report for work as a farm laborer.
I really don’t understand how can you all say – I don’t have his best interest in heart when I am prepared to do all this and much more for Mr Yee.
‘Want to be a revolutionary? Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan. But you must first learn to get by on your own steam – that is the first revolution every aspiring revolutionary learns….after all let us not talk about Revolution when you don’t even know how to stop the revolution of acid juice churning round and round in your stomach just because you dunno how to earn money to put five bucks on a combo meal in Long John Silver – after all Che Guevera worked as a physician. As for Fidel Castro he also worked as a lawyer. Even Adolf Hitler worked as a postcard painter in the streets of Vienna. Idi Amin was a career soldier. Stalin was a professional hit man. As for Alvin Tan he too is working as a waiter and an internet porno film star.
My point is all revolutionaries are first and foremost workers who have highest respect and veneration for the idea of dignity of labor!
There is nothing more edifying to a revolutionary than to apply himself gainfully to labor in such a way where others are willing to vote for him with their wallets. This is first dictum BEFORE any revolution can begin in the mind of the revolutionary.
Please understand I harbor no malice or ill will towards Mr Yee. On the contrary I have his welfare first and foremost in mind that is why I am so invested in his education as a revolutionary.
OK so you say – you want to be good hearted, caring and fight the good fight, that is why you want to donate to Mr Yee’s relocation fund. But what will eventually happen to a man or for that matter any man who doesn’t at some point in his life learn the wisdom of how to get by in this world by the sweat of his brow?
In what manner or for that matter logic might you be enabling Mr Yee to be a revolutionary?
I submit to you if you give him money – you are disabling him as certainly as surely as hammering nails into his kneecaps. How might the easy street steel his mind, clarify his philosophy of opposition to create the man who leads a revolution. Or for that matter supply the raw material for him to be a great revolutionary when he doesn’t even know basic life skills like how to earn his keep to buy a Big Mac?
What sort of pariah dog revolutionary might that be – who doesn’t even have the sagacity, discipline or resolve to put in an eight hour shift to buy a brain freeze slurpee from 7/11?
There is no revolution going on there….do you all hear me….are we all on the same page? – only perhaps the going round and round variety of revolution that invariably leads to nowhere….all of you are not enabling as much as disabling him from gainfully actualizing his dreams of be a revolutionary.
Please bear in mind I genuinely want Mr Yee to succeed in his life quest – that is why the best thing anyone can possibly do to help him actualize his goal is to give him absolutely nothing. Not even so much as card board shilling.
As it is only in abject nothingness that some thing significant can emerge resembling a true revolutionary.’
January 7, 2017
Every year without fail. Just around this period when the clove scented winds blow hard from the East presaging the advent of the dry season.
There will be plenty of sightings of the dreaded man eating tiger.
Anything and everything it seems can be the tiger. A striped rock in weak light..Tiger. A bronzed cow bronzed ribboned by the shadows of the evening sun…Tiger. A distant bark of a dog…Tiger. Even people who may just be walking around minding their own business in faded tiger beer T shirts…Tiger.
Whenever this menace real or imagined seemingly appears. Usually 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. 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 imaginary 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 restlessly in search of human flesh – there is never any sign of such a mythical beast….it seems to only exist somewhere in that vast frightening geography of the human mind.
‘When I first watched Ang Lee’s movie – the life of Pi. I never had any reason to doubt the recount of the Indian boy’s ordeal 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 with very little room for improvisation. So there is no reason to question beyond what’s actually presented.
It was only in the last segment of the movie when two Japanese insurers interviewed Pi and expressed disbelief that there was actually a tiger onboard – 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 may well be subjective but the question is intended to serve as a moment of reflection on what we consider real or make belief.
Don’t sweat it. This is not a Mensa test. They are no right or wrong answers – just perhaps 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 final narrative….that to me is one of the most interesting dimensions of this movie – 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. Why should they. 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 like the imaginary have the malevolent power to maul and in certain cases even chew us up like candy…..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.
I guess what I am trying to convey here is – reality is not written in stone. There is plenty of room for improvisation : reality is after all is simply interpretation. In a sense we co-create our reality. And we do that all the time, every day. One day we wake up and we’re in a great mood, the city we live in is a beautiful place filled with wondrous sights and sounds. The next day it’s an ugly city. Then there are days when it’s just shades of grey between beautiful and ugly. And of course there might also be days when a man eating tiger prowls the city. Though we may be shackled to the facts of life, but there is certainly an element of freedom in how we interpret those facts.
That I imagine is why everyone has a man eating tiger prowling in some darkened corner of their heads….waiting and watching with hungry eyes.
Perhaps one day, when and if we ever get the opportunity to met…..perhaps you will tell me the story of your own invisible man eating tiger.
Or maybe you have not given the matter much thought at all?
You really must! I insist. After all, I am the great hunter who regularly shoots invisible man eating tigers.’