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 A simple question: is the Singapore Inc brand resilient enough to come out unscathed from the Wikileaks scandal? Some people may say that the Ministry of Foreign affairs has nothing whatsoever to do with Singapore Inc – I disagree as the whole idea of government is so pervasive and all encompassing that it’s hard if not impossible to delineate what is and is not Singapore Inc.

Let’s down a couple of cocktails and be perfectly frank; the persona that makes up the whole Singapore Inc brand can range to anything from SIA girls sporting designer Kebaya’s to discreet, congenial and efficient diplomats (providing they are not drinking and dealing lah – once they hit those cocktails then all bets are off lah) who radiate cool efficiency as they negotiate free trade agreements – that however was before the Wikileaks revelations.

These days when we consider how damaging those memos and cables revealed by Wikileaks were on the Singapore Inc brand – it conjures the image of a beleaguered BP following the Gulf of Mexico disaster when it went from being No. 1 in the brand-loyalty index in the oil industry — to dead rubber duck last of the untouchables. This coupled with its “how low can you go?” stock price has become the quintessential story of how a big brand can come crashing down like timbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer.

Will Singapore Inc end up like the ignominious fall from grace of BP?

I hope not – one reason why I’ve used BP as a comparative alongside Singapore Inc is because both share startling structural similarities – firstly, they both believe they’re at the top of their game – secondly, they both believe that they culled the best of best brains in the market – and thirdly, they both believe that they have a copper clad reputations that take whatever their competitors throw at them – paradoxically, one of the reasons why BP’s fall from grace was so sudden and unexpected could have been partly due to one or more of the reasons I listed above – for starters the firm has nurtured itself as the ultimate “green” oil company, amongst other similar oil companies who often seen by the public as either plain bochap (ambivalent) or only paid scant attention to the environment – as a consequence, the ubiquitous image of BP was considered greener than green; this coupled with its new sunflower logo; a new vision, “Beyond Petroleum,” and the playing up of the BP acronym instead of its name; and its boasts about alternative-energy initiatives such as wind farms positioned it as a leader in its game.

Similarly the Singapore Inc brand appears to have emulated the same model of success – where it has carefully nurtured the image of intellectual probity, good governance and delivery reliability based on a coterie of scholars. Along with vigorously selling the “win win” calculus as the appellation of excellence.  To complete this mythology a pantheon of firms help magnify this image of infallibility, efficiency and trustworthiness regionally via Temasek, GIC and other Singaporean firms which have a global footprint.

All of that seems laughably hollow now as the Singapore Inc brand has been unmasked for what it really is by Wikileaks. But the epochal problem for Singapore Inc just like the failed BP brand actually goes way beyond whether it was able to fulfill the lofty expectations it had managed to peddled to the general public – the problem was so much of it depended on the power of mythology and managing that perception – and all it really takes is for someone to go back stage and take a peek at what’s really going on – and in certain respects just as a busted oil well 2 miles down somewhere in the gulf of Mexico revealed BP for what it really was – a flake. Will further dumps by Wikileaks do the same to Singapore Inc.

I hope not.

(Some parts of this essay has either been shortened, removed, deleted or self censored due to full measured response)

 “I say who the devil is this Temasek Daddy? Is he a new fellow? I say old boy, didn’t that chap use to go by the moniker Singaporedaddy not so long ago? He is the Internet Liaison Officer of the Confederation…am I right? We went to school together in Eaton.”

“Right you are. Singaporedaddy has now rebranded himself as Temasekdaddy – it appears Singapore doesn’t seem to be in season these days, like Lychees in September wot… especially in Kuala Lumpur.”

“I say old boy is that a Singapore sling you have there?”

“You mean Southern comfort don’t you.”

“Yes, Southern Comfort. My regrets old boy…terrible business that…”

A reception hosted somewhere in Jalan Duta by the Saffron route Liaison officer based in Kuala Lumpur in conjuction with the Interspacing Mercantile Guild & the Laanstrad to commemorate the christening of the new Super Class Dimitri class Space Station – KDD Alor Setar / KDD Yah Ah Loy.

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“Gentlemen let me speak plainly. No one doubts a married man regularly makes love to his wife. In just the same way no one doubts I or even you may say unflattering things behind my or your back. The issue here is not the truth; neither does it have anything to do with the pursuit of the truth – if that were really the case, then we could all just as well move on with admirable ease and none of us would need to drive 400 km to smooth things out with the Malaysians –for any relationship to grow, there must be some tension – this the French call je ne sais quoi – the Russians Marzuokar – the Spanish, Chiaroscuro – there is no equivalent in English, so don’t waste your time trying to google it – now that the cat is out of the bag; there is no more mystery, no more Marzuokar, no possibility of saying, we cannot confirm or deny that – and God knows what else your countryman has been blabbering behind the backs of others – Gentlemen, behold, the ugly Singaporean he is out in the open, warts and all – and his “win win” song and dance now sounds like a requiem. His indiscreations a flag of defeat! The Laanstrad considers him a wash out! A carpet bagger! He is finished!

What are we going to do Gentlemen? It is regrettable but we are now so intertwined with the whole idea of the Singapore Brand – when people deal with us; they see Singapore and us as one reality – so what affects Singapore will affect us as well – there is no other way; the four houses of the Laanstrad have all agreed; we have to send someone into the endless labyrinth of the virtual to stop further leaks, we want Darkness to do this.”

“Your Excellency, I protest…I would have you know Darkness is a criminal! And he has 71 charges pending against him! I will…”

“Centurion, do you see these seals? This man has had too many cocktails. Take this man out and shoot him! Where was I?”

“Your excellency, you were on the subject of Darkness.”

 “Yes, we want you the Council of the Wise to pardon unconditionally that troublemaker, you all call Darkness and his entire crew, JDAM, Scholarboy, Astroboy, the whole lot; the rest of the tribes are demanding that you do this immediately, especially the Malaysians; they may not understand one word of his broken guitar Malay, but let us face it, without that used car salesman; we would all not be able to sell those Superclass Space stations – the Laanstrad has authorized me with these four seals to see to this matter; to do everything humanly possible to stop these leaks – to insert Darkness and his team into the mess of the virtual to stop further leaks, hopefully, he will be able to pull it off like he what he once did during the Ascension Wars – do you understand why you cannot send Darkness back to Singapore? We want him back here in Kuala Lumpur! We want him to report to the Laanstrad directly. There is no more dotted line to the Council.  And thereafter to fly to Bueno Aries! Is there any part of this message that you all do not understand? I am clear Gentlemen? Please try to understand Gentlemen, this is business, it’s nothing personal. The Laanstrad now wants to know who we can blame for this? We always need someone to blame.”

Sar-har-bat (his excellency, the personal envoy of the Emperor of the Known Universe, Laanstrad)

Excerpt captured by an auto-bot crawler – on board Liberati Deep Space Star Cruiser – KDD Carphatia – Laanstrad.

 

By now you’ve probably heard that George Yeo et al is starting to look and sound like the string quartet that once played on the Titanic just before it sank – only this time; those happy go lucky diplomats were dun in by the latest Wikileaks dump. I know what you are going to say, diplomatic memo’s and cables are supposed to be P & C, so why should the MFA even consider apologizing to the Malaysians, Thais and God knows who else? The Eskimos? Well it all depends who else got slagged off and how much is going to get dumped tomorrow. 

Besides we all know apologizing is never an easy street – it’s nothing short of an admission of guilt. especially hard for leaders who lay claim to the appellation of the we-are-the-dream-team. After all they’re supposed to be the guys in the white hats, not the losers; who have to tuck into humble pie; and let’s face it – did they really do anything wrong or were the Americans wholly to blame?

Well let’s take a quick look at the facts – who did the MFA really decide to trust? Oh what do we have here? A country where security leaks are as common as raisins in a fruit cake. A patchy culture of keeping secrets that goes all the way back to the first CEO, George washington- whose infantile mantra was, I will not hold back when asked a question- and silly me, who would have ever thought in this digital age of cut and paste, thumb drives that even makes James Bond’s gadgets look quaint that it’s even possible to hide secrets from the pineapple eye of the public?

Maybe I am a bit harsh on the MFA, but my gut feel is the question of culpability depends on whether these events are foreseeable- that I shall leave to you, the perceptive reader.

However, if you really want to make an informed decision as to whether the US is a reliable partner, then do read this:

https://dotseng.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/can-the-us-fix-mr-julian-assange-like-shardrake/

First of all, let’s me be crystal clear, contrary to populist belief every country allied to the US has been dinged by Wikileaks; observation suggest, not all were as happy go lucky devil may care as our MFA boys – for starters not all regarded the diplomat channels of communication as the equivalent of sand box politics boys club – some demonstrated not only sound judgment; but a total distrust of US being able to contain any fall out by virtue of it’s patchy trek record e.g Pentagon Papers, 1st Ammendment rights etc.

Most importantly many were fully aware of the ramifications of a leak and how it could damage relations – and this should prompt us all to ask, why didn’t we see fit to do the same? And now that these memos and cables have reached this cinematic climax, what should rightly be done to manage the fall out?

Was there a lapse in leadership in placing so much trust in an incontinent US state department? Should we have hedged more bets and been more circumspect of the possibility of leaks on the side of the US? Or should we just treat Wikileaks as an aberration of diplomacy in the digital age? A cost of doing business – in the way automobile manufacturers and consumers volens to the risk?

Or should George Yeo just apologize?

The long and short of it is, it’s not that simple. Firstly, public apologies by politicians are not, even under the best of circumstances, without risk to their own hegemony – consider how Clinton torpedoed Al Gore’s chances at the US presidency when he admitted his affair with Monika Lewinsky – observation suggest there are downsides and in some cases the penalties associated with saying sorry can prove so costly reputationally that it may just make more sense to stick to one’s guns come what may – wonder no more why Bush Jr today still considers the invasion of Iraq to be one of his greatest achievement- truth may well be he has no choice, but to insist at ever turn and opportunity it was the best decision he ever made.

Where I believe the decision to say sorry or stick to one’s guns acquires an edge is while apologies can moderate and even palliate anger. They can also strengthen the negative associations between the personality and the party – the person as I see it is not the real lost; what is seldom factored into the cummulative cost of having to say sorry is the damage to the credibility of the party political hegemony – usually this prohibitive cost of casting a negative aspersion on the party renders an apology an unattractive proposition.  

That’s a shame, in my view simplistic as it may be; coming clean and owning up to one’s fuck up can often defuse what could otherwise be an explosive situation. Even those who would tend towards caution agree that a sincere sorry is more likely to ameliorate a bad situation than to exacerbate it. Yet unfortunately some leaders are prone to overestimate the costs of apologizing and underestimating the advantages – maybe they are right to do so; maybe not, but no matter what one thing will I am sure endure long after this wikileaks saga has waned – what cocktails were those diplomats drinking?

One for the road lah!

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“My friends, he cannot give you context. Ok lah, I will supply the context. The context is we are dealing with a bunch of monkeys in tuxedos who got on really bad fermented coconut juice. I believe it is called samsu. (laughter from the crowd)…..let us not talk about the monkeys. We have come here today to hand over our new superclass Dimitri Space station – KKD Alor Setar, may she always continue to search out more to unite than divide us all. If I appear tired, I am so sorry, I was so worried last night that I came over here at 6 in the morning and have been making sure that this kenduri goes well. Again I am so sorry…..I know how this may look like….but I want to state categorically as a matter of record these views are not shared by the vast majority of singaporeans and residents. Singapore has many Malaysians working there and they have always been friends of Singapore as we the friends of Malaysia. I think we should just focus on those things and ignore the monkey business.”

Speech given in 5th floor in a restaurant in Pavilion, Bukit Bintang   

This conversation was captured by an auto-bot built and operated by the Interspacing Metal Exchange somewhere in the Imperium.

Singaporedaddy: “Darkness, the Council of the Wise has decided to escalate Measured Response. They believe that, if they do not send a strong and terse message then it will all be in vain – I am sure you have heard about how the Google deal was scuttled? Well I have bad news. The Council told me to inform, you people are no longer allowed to write ever again.”

JDAM: “Ask the Council of Dumb to go and fuck themselves; since when did we ever take orders from them?”

Scholarboy: “Singaporedaddy, are you serious?”

Atomic Monkey: “What’s the big deal? We will just work around the Council….right Darkness?”

Harphoon: “Why was I not told about this Singaporedaddy? I would have vetoed it! They have no right to stop us from writing! Am I right Darkness?”

Darkness: “It’s no use. They want us to react and do something stupid, but we are not going to do that, not when they have 8 seats out of 15 in the Confederation. We will mark time this time, Singaporedaddy run back to your masters and tell them that I Darkness, say, ‘by your Command.”

Singaporedaddy: “I knew you would come around boys. But look at the bright side, the Council feels your talents are better suited elsewhere – they feel all of you are wasting your life here; have you heard that Google may be considering setting up base in Malaysia? I can’t think of a better crew to stroll in there with a few power slides to sell them the idea. And the Confederation has managed to get about 10 to 15 juggernauts to join them in Pavillion in Bukit Bintang -we have contacted our Saudi and Gulf partners, apparently a few of them used to go to school with a few of those princes, so Darkness, this is not the end as it is just the beginning – pack your bags, you’re leaving tomorrow.”

The rest of this excerpt has either been censored, deleted, removed or withdrawn from general circulation due to Measured Response

Recently, another Survey was conducted on Singapore…this time…something just didn’t go down very well. However before we dive into the deep end to talk abt why the square peg couldn’t fit into the round hole – it may help to mull over the whole idea of why our politicians seem to be so sensitive to criticism?

Maybe, it has something to do with our scripting as a society? We’re after all taught in school, families, work and play to feel guilty about failure and to do whatever we can to avoid mistakes. This sense of shame combined with the inevitability of setbacks when attempting difficult things explains why it’s so hard to make real and meaningful progress in Singapore – as progress and making mistakes is really one of the same reality, that at least is how I see the learning curve.

I think in life everyone eventually learns the value of taking constructive criticism, if they are genuine about inculcating a culture of continuous improvement in work, life and play – those who don’t will at best keep on banging their heads against the wall like a ball in a pinball machine – and as the sage Santayana said, “they will be cursed to repeat the error of their ways again and again.” That to me is how I see the whole cycle of feedback and criticism – however, let’s not be naive not everything that has to do with criticism is necessarily constructive – some of it is just darn malicious and down right feral designed to fuck you up – most of it however is in good faith.

It’s really a matter of perspective, but I think as relationships become more fluid and interactive, it’s no longer possible to just wall oneself up in some ivory tower and keep on chanting the mantra, the world is flat, the world is flat – that’s a dead end if the goal is Simpatico – politicians will simply have to get with the idea instead of fighting it, if it rubs the wrong way, then they should not suffer and go and work for HP, General Motors or be a consultant in Boston Consulting – politics may just not your karma.

What surprises me is while most don’t seem to have any problems perceiving the value of constructive criticism and feedback when teachers are imparting knowledge to children – or when a supervisor is critiquing an employee with the goal in mind to improve performance.

Why then should the logic be inverted when it comes to citizens and residents giving feedback to politicians?

Unfortunately it seems we find it more and more difficult to give any type of criticism to politicians these days- neither do they seem interested to learn or for that matter gather anything meaningful from negative feedback. All too often; the reaction of some politicians needless to say is to adopt a defensive posture; outright denial or rely on some inverted logic that attempts to turn black into white, and that by far means no criticism or feedback can ever be constructive – that also means they don’t progress and instead regress – and that unfortunately also means the serious men of this world cannot trust them to do big things.

Recently for example, Singapore performed relatively well in the latest annual bellwether survey on anti-corruption by global civil society organisation Transparency International but some results of the survey, which was conducted online here, raised eyebrows among those whom MediaCorp contacted – when it came to petty bribery. Just 9 per cent of those polled here said they had experienced such incidents. But when asked to assess government action against corruption, 31 per cent of the 1,000 respondents here said these actions were ineffective, 40 per cent were undecided and 29 per cent said they were effective.

Commenting on the survey,  added:

“The online survey might have attracted certain profiles, perhaps people who do not rely on the mainstream media (for news) … that could be something when digesting this information.”

To paraphrase what he meant to say is we netizens just mucked up his pretty survey – but when it comes to the real litmus test – can he supply the prove that there was something fundamentally flawed with the methodology i.e were some of the respondents polled differently to have skewered the results. I am sure Ah Baey will just make some teeth sucking sounds and slink right back where he came from into some dark place in his mind called Absurdistan.

I give you the facts, you decide. Prove me wrong Ah bae, can’t get more direct than this?

(This essay has either been shortened, withdrawn partly from circulation or simply deleted by order of Measured Response – to get to know more about MEASURED RESPONSE and why it was enable – please kindly contact your Internet Liaison officer of the Brotherhood in your respective designated precinct)

“My young apprentice, are you familiar with the folios of Shakespeare?”

“A bit Master.”

“Can you recount the crytic phrase from Act I, Scene 4,: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. do you know what it means?”

“Master, I think it refers to something that is not right…something is fishy.”

“Yes, you are right apprentice. Do you notice whenever there is a negative survey about our country; these monkeys will jump up and down like bunch of baboons. But if the survey is favorable; then not only will they use it to pat themselves on the back; they will quote it again and again, till it will look like a tattered name card, so what do you have to say apprentice about this state….this attitude…this manner of leadership…this way?”

“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark?”

“The problem is that which is rotten is not in Denmark, but right here. But I see an opportunity here apprentice, maybe we should all go into politics?.”

This excerpt of a conversation has been captured on board the Tiberium Class Deep Space cruiser – KDD JUMO

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One of the toughest things to do is see things for what they really are.  Why?  We can fool ourselves.  Truth is stranger than fiction; but 9 out of 10, we see what we want to see, or we hear what we want to hear and we don’t think as much as sieve information to affirm what’s already in our heads – that’s the truth – and let me level with you. I AM AS SUPCEPTIBLE TO THIS CONDITION AS YOU ARE. 

That’s part and parcel of the human condition and anyone who tells you otherwise, just hasn’t bothered to audit himself.

And this brings me to my buy recommendation this evening – most people if you ask them right now will not touch the Eurozone with a barge pole – but I don’t agree with that assessment; I guess we can spend two pages discussing the why’s, but I would prefer it, if you do the homework yourself – and get the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

It may sound counter intuitive; but when everyone sells that’s usually a good time to buy; the way I see it the vast majority of investors are spooked by what’s currently happening in the Eurozone – first, it was Greece, now Ireland and some say Portugal and Spain is all line up for the fall – but as I said in the very beginning of this essay – you really need to ask yourself, what is fundamentally driving this mood of doom and gloom – and if you really take the trouble to eek it out; you will discover that 99% of the fears are imagined – that’s to say it’s premised on what most people think will happen; rather than what’s likely to happen.

That’s one reason why I believe the National Bank of Greece currently is such a great buy http://www.google.com/finance?q=NYSE:NBG ; it’s taken virtually everything that can be thrown at it; but it’s still standing – and that’s one reason why I believe it’s a survivor – like I said, do your own research – and what will surprise you is the National Bank of Greece is one of the most diversified banks in the Eurozone – it’s footprint extends to Turkey, where it enjoys a significant market share through its Finansbank – they way I see it, NBG should be worth substantially more in a couple of years; if you missed out on the opportunity to buy into Citibank when it was trading for a dollar – then the National Bank of Greece fits the bill as an investment that may very well generate that sort of stellar returns in two to three years.

The best part of the deal is at the current price-to-book multiples the National Bank of Greece stock is about as cheap as it gets when it comes to buying a large banking franchise in either the U.S. or Europe.

I know, banks in Scotland and Ireland look cheaper, but they are both significantly more troubled than NBG and don’t have the same fast-growing emerging-markets exposure. Put it all together and providing you have a cool head and can wait it out for a few years for your ships to come full circle – National Bank of Greece certainly looks like a rewarding long-term buy.

DISCLOSURE: THE AUTHOR HAS 5 FIGURE POSITIONS ON THE NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE AT THE TIME OF WRITING THIS ARTICLE

“Most people take risk not because they have too; truth is what choice do they have – and that’s the truth; when I was a youth; I said that to myself that I wanted to be an engineer, I didn’t want to work as a typewriter mechanic as what my parents wanted – I think one of the worst human conditions to be in is to know deep down that you could go the whole 10 yards, but you just have to stay back – although I had been accepted for a place in a University, I had no money; so that was that, one evening, I went to see my Auntie, she was the only educated person in our family – I told her of the story of the man that I aspired to be; the following day, she pawned her jade ring and two diamond earrings and said to me, this is all I have, go; two weeks after that I was on a plane to London – I had only $200 in my pocket; I had no idea how I was going to pay the school fees of some 3 thousand sterling every year or even how I would survive once I stepped off the plane; but I said to myself – I have two hands and I am strong, so I will not die…I will not die…I will not die…I will not die….I will not die – I think you have to be Cantonese to understand this attitude, I don’t believe if you are a teochew or a Hokkien, you will understand this, this is a very Cantonese thinking, so now you understand what I wrote here is not entirely untrue: http://intelligentsingaporean.wordpress.com/2005/02/12/the-confessions/ – at least, I had a chance to make something out of my life; I think when you are buublewrapped you will not understand what I saying apprentice – this will all sound like ego masturbation to you. maybe you should climb this rock face without any safety ropes, then u will understand….

Darkness.

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It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to state categorically; that if you take a general sweep of the topics in discussion in most gaming forum (especially the underground variety – the talk of the day is: when the fuck is Wikileaks going to release the UFO files? No we are not talking about peak oil and UFO does not refer to unleaded fuel only – we are talking about those little green men who we once thought zapped Mas Selamat when he was happily crapping away – unfortunately, the only alien there was he crossed the straits became an illegal alien in Malaysia.

As some of you may already know the Brotherhood Press, especially the gaming division has always had an avid interest in aliens – but have you ever considered, where did UFO mania really begin?

Well before those Wikileaks revelations blow us away; it may be a good idea to spend some time ferreting out the history of UFOism – it all began somewhere in Absurdistan which is located inTexas (that incidentally is also the place where crop circles regularly occur) on a spring June in 1947, a traveling salesman by the name of Kenneth Arnold proclaimed to the world; he spotted the first flying saucer in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State. At first everyone brushed him off as a Looney. But this didn’t stop Arnold and his motley crew from spreading their message through out the American radio circuit. No one really took them seriously beyond regarding them as freak shows in between advertising slots for detergents and soda pops.

But it was just after WW2 and most Americans were tired of looking down, flying saucers offered a good excuse as any to lift one’s head towards the heavens. Today – ‘UFO’ ranks as the second most Googled word and scores the second highest hit just after ‘porn’ – three in every five people believe our planet has been visited by an alien civilization – there’s even an US government funded program (SETI) to look for little green men.

I wonder are they all delusional? Perhaps they know something, you and I don’t know….

These days anything to do with UFO’s is serious business. Gone are the days when the likes of Arnold and his motley crew were treated like inbreeding cretins paraded around like circus freaks. These days UFO believers make the Freemasons look like a consortium of bus drivers. Don’t believe me –check it out yourself;

http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc1358.htm

Reads like a who is who’s list. Right? Still think we’ve crazy? Not so sure now are you?

What many people don’t realize is UFO mania is the stuff of cult churches where the pastor goes around in a sports car – it’s is big business! The trade in UFO paraphernalia alone runs into mind boggling figures exceeding USD$3.5 billion per annum and the underground figure is at least 3 times bigger! Hey and just like cult churches, they don’t even need publish annual accounts! The UFO movement has even managed to stake a claim on their own Jerusalem in Roswell. A fabled site where flying saucer historians rant no end about how once upon a time “this is was the place where an alien space craft once crashed complete with five green men.” (maybe this is another case for agent molder and Scully?). Nevermind that Arnold was once diagnosed as clinically delusional – nevermind that he had an imaginary cat called “Dorothy” – nevermind that he had a bizarre habit of driving naked in his pick up. These are just minor kinks in the surreal UFO footage.

What surprises me no end, is how the vast majority of UFO adherents universally reject any evidence based, rational way of either empirically proving or debunking their beliefs. In fact, the mere mention of the possibility that flying saucers might not exist is so heretical. The reaction it usually provokes suggests one should immediately shred one’s brain in anticipation of the looming darkness.

One reason accounting for UFO fundamentalism is it’s entirely a matter of faith, just like cult churches i.e just because you can’t disprove means – it has to be true!

I say this rather sheepishly as having once traveled during my university days to stone hedge in England along with a bunch of UFO enthusiast. It was supposed to be a group event led by then extraterrestrial guru supremo, Eric Von Daniken – our aim was to establish ‘contact’ with an alien civilization.

Eric Von Daniken was widely known as the veritable Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Dalai Lama of the UFO fraternity. So there we were all standing on a side of a hill with other similarly confused kids in a circle holding hands and gripping TV antennas in between our teeth trying our best to ‘conduct’ our energy towards the far reaches of outer space – to make contact. (Retrospectively, I can’t imagine a more frightening way to greet an alien civilization – seems akin to me like future pot in the missionary sort of greeting.) We were even promised a visitation complete with a 7 day space trip that in space time roughly equaled 20 earth days, just dandy for me to stop paying my rent. But when the space ship didn’t arrive and it started to rain. Most of us realize the only thing we were going to ‘conduct’ was lightning. By then, Eric Von Daniken’s agent (a moonlighting intergalactic tour guide whose day job was a milk delivery man, that should have rung big Ben till it was a bengkok) packed off like a traveling circus along with our money.

All of us realized that we had been duped, including this other Singaporean chap from Holland village, whom I vaguely recall as Homer (you would have thought someone with a name like Homer would be able to think for both of us!).

I spent a whole week living in a friend’s station wagon only because my landlord has rented out the room (that was the closest I ever got to space, only because it was a banged up Nissan Space Wagon).

I often tell myself, when one goes through these sort of experiences, it’s supposed to make one wiser (well its supposed too) – in the years that followed, slowly the posters of the flying saucer disappeared slowly followed by other space paraphernalia and curios which is probably making their rounds in ebay. For a time, I even suffered an aversion for all things remotely sci-fi and preferred down to earth Merchant & Ivory flicks like ‘room with a view’ which looked out to rolling green hills in terra-firma.

When I look back at my youthful preoccupation with UFO’s – my mania, wasn’t so different from the rest of those people who still continue to believe in the existence of flying saucers and little green men. One reason why the myth of UFO remains so compelling is because it taps into the very root of human yearning – it’s the same one that I realize religious hucksters and charlatans leverage on whenever they ask us all to deep deeper into our pockets – deep down, all of us yearns for a sense of belonging, where we can make sense of who we are in relation to the broader community.

All too often our crie de couer is so strong, it even denies the possibility of the truth. It’s a play of course on the classical Rousseau-lian theme, “I think, so I am.” That just means the possibility that all there is to life is just the vacuum of a Copernican universe where we may just be the only ones out there is simply too repugnant to handle.

Neither does the notion of the human species being merely an accidental by-product sit too well with our sense and sensibilities either – for one it fills us with the morbid fear there’s perhaps only, in the words of Blaise Pascal,

“the cool eternity and silence of space…as it goes on and on….and on and on…into the depths of eternity…on and on and on….”

My friend, Darkness once told me: all of us are genetically predisposed to always seek out meaningful connections with others. We can no more run away from this tendency any more than we can step out from our skin and bones, that’s how strong the desire to connect is, that’s something ants can’t do.

Could this be the reason why against this existential vacuum called space – so many of us look out endlessly to search for flying saucers whirling happily away? Really, I want to believe, I do.

 

Senior Representative For the Interspacing Metal Exchange – Meyer: “Darkness may have once wrote a fairytale during the late 90’s; but let us be clear Sergei aka Singaporedaddy; today 7 out of 10 gamers in Russia believe the Brotherhood helped the Egyptians to build the Pyramids; 6.5 out of 10 gamers in Germany believe the Brotherhood helped the South Americans to construct the Panama Canal; 3 out of 10 Chinese believe that the three Gorges dam was dug out using alien technology provided by the brotherhood; 7 out of 10 gamers in the East coast in America believe the Bermuda triangle is some cosmic portal that the brotherhood regularly use to fold space – and even as we speak at this very moment Sergei; there are over 791 names that the brotherhood goes by…do you understand now Sergei?”

Singaporedaddy, rep of the Interspacing Mercantile Guild “Why didn’t Ninkumpops tell us all that in the beginning? Instead, Herr Meyer and Liaison to the Saffron Route, Al Khaleed have been beating around the bush. If that is the case, then I agree with all of you Gentlemen; there’s absolutely no incentive for us to tell the truth. Besides no one would believe us, even if we told them. we are actually humans. That leaves us with only one other issue to sort out Gentlemen…how do we explain to the public that we can still walk straigt after getting spun around for hours in a flying saucer?”

Trade Negotiation between the Metal Exchange and the Mercantile Guild of the Laanstrad. Captured by the Book of Ages / Chapter 106 – Civilization

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China’s recent petulant response to the Nobel Committee is starting to look like a desperate act of a spurned lover – all dressed up with no one to blow sums it up to a tee, well someone should tell them, throwing tantrums and making empty threats simply don’t work these days, infact, it may just explode right in their face.    
 
Notwithstanding the obvious, China recently launched a well organized campaign to persuade countries not to attend the Nobel ceremony in Oslo. Eighteen countries, including Serbia, Russia and Pakistan, have turned down the Nobel invitation – on the surface the strategy seems to be working if only you didn’t realize those countries also suffer from the patchy human rights records as China.
 
The irony is Beijing’s high-pressure tactics and campaign of vilification have created a tsunami of publicity for Liu, a 54-year-old democracy activist who was formerly all but unknown even inside China – today he is an international superstar.

Neither is the China line against the Nobel Committee holding up very well either, the governments of both Serbia and the Philippines seem to be getting heat from their own citizens for melting to China’s demands to boycott the event. China and 18 other nations – mostly close allies and fellow authoritarian cum dictator states – have declined to attend, according to the Nobel committee, IMHO no love loss there, more food and campagne to go around.

In the long term such childish tactics have taken a toll on China’s efforts to win friends in the international community. That could make it harder for Beijing to win over international opinion on issues ranging from climate change to securing free trade concessions.

What China doesn’t seem to understand is not only is history firmly stacked against her. but in this age of global connectivity, no country can afford to paint itself into a corner by going against certain core values that civilized human beings consider non-negotiable. And no amount of fear mongering, intimidation and threats is ever going to change those conditions.

“China is like a man who drives a S class Mercedes with leopard upholstery, sports a gold Rolex watch with diamonds, carries a bag filled with money with an almanac of the toto numbers under this armpit – so when you ask this man what he thinks about Faust, the first thing he will ask you is whether Jet Li or Jackie Chan is the main protagonist.

The problem with China is they do not seem to understand the word – Simpatico – when it comes to dealing with the International Community; they understand this word when it comes to dealing with Singaporeans and overseas Chinese, only because it has a different connatation, but with the international community – Simpatico is meaningless without La Convivencia – consider this my young apprentice; our tribe has ruled the Universe for over 3,000 years – do you think, we can do that, if we do not understand the interplay of these two words? And that is a game – what more of a large country like China?” Darkness

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Due to the overwhelming readers response to this interview about Wikileaks – the Brotherhood Press will be releasing further installments of this interview with Missy Dotty – however due to Measured Response, certain sections have been with withdrawn, deleted and withheld – for more information as to how Measured Response will affect your internet experience and why – kindly contact your friendly Internet Liaison officer of the Internet.

Harphoon: Missy Dotty many of our readers have written in to ask whether by making public these cables and memo’s which are supposed to be secret can the US government bring Mr Julian Assange to account?

Missy Dotty: It depends what you mean by “bring to account,” Harphy Boy – this may come as a surprise to the lay reader; but there is actually no right per se to privacy; not one that is safeguarded by the law at least in the US – the only legal document that I can think of that touches on this area goes all the way back to 1890, when Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren wrote something for Harvard Law School about the right to privacy –even then what has to be recognized is the law as to privacy in the US is really a mess and varies in certitude depending on which state you are really in.

Harphoon: So you are saying that there is no way the US government can fix Mr Assange?

Missy Dotty: How silly of me, if it’s “fixing,” then that’s another issue isn’t it Harphy Boy? Then the question would depend on whether there are any legal hurdles that prevents them from arresting Mr Julian Assange – but even if there are restrictions; these are by no means insurmountable.

Harphoon: What do you see as the biggest hurdle?

Missy Dotty: I think it is a question of semantics and definition – the lay person considers these cables and memo’s secrets – the problem is the US law, specifically the Espionage Act of 1918 does not consider them, secrets – because the leaks came from the US state department – and to invoke the Espionage Act, the material leaked needs to be classed as “national defense,” material.

Harphoon: So you are saying that Mr Assange is off the hook?

Missy Dotty: Harphy boy are we still talking about fixing him?

Harphoon: Yes.

Missy Dotty: In that case another hurdle that the US government would have to figure out is how do they get around the first amendment right? This is a right that guarantees freedom to speech for newspapers or any organization that is in the business of disseminating information and this should include Wikileaks.

Harphoon: How strong is the first amendment?

Missy Dotty: Strong enough to blunt a full frontal charge by a rhinoceros, I imagine Harphy Boy – the last time it was invoked was during the Nixon Administration; when the New York Times published excerpts of the Pentagon Papers – these were incriminating transcripts relating to the US military policy in Vietnam and the whole thing went right up to the Supreme Court – to cut a long story short, the courts booted out the case of the state and ruled in favor of the NYT who relied on their first defense priori of the 1st Amendment right.

Harphoon: So you are saying that if shoves comes to push Mr Assange can still rely on this elemental 1st Amendment rights?

Missy Dotty: Are we still on trying to fix him?

Harphoon: Yes.

Missy Dotty: In that case, there is one way to get around the 1st and what you need to do is establish the presence of “bad faith” i.e the burden of proof is to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Assange with knowledge aforethought carried out his act with the intention of harming the US.

Harphoon: So why don’t they do that Missy Dotty?

Missy Dotty: Don’t be a silly nilly Harphy Boy – if the US pursued that course of action that would mean Mr Assange might need to reveal the very cables and memos which incriminate the US most to prove that he has no bad faith to secure his innocence.

Harphoon: You mean to say Dotty he has really damaging stuff on the US?

Missy Dotty: I cannot confirm or deny that as I am not privy to such information – but I am sure Mr Assange has very competent lawyers and if I were his counsel, this would be something that I would definitely advise him to do – Harphy Boy, it always pays to keep something for a rainy day.

Harphoon: Yes, you are right Dotty.  

Missy Dotty: Of course I am.

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Harphoon: Missy Dotty, let me just begin by asking you what do you think about this whole idea that drives Wikileaks? The WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, evangelizes transparency at all cost. He has even been quoted as saying, “We are transparency activists who understand that transparent government tends to produce just government. And that is our sort of modus operandi behind our whole organization.” Do you agree with him?

Missy Dotty: Whether or not I agree with Mr Assange is irrelevant Harphy Boy – I think there are two issues here that we need to keep separate – otherwise, we may find it difficult to separate the trees from the forest.

The first relates to what I term creating the conditions that takes stock of the practical necessity of getting the job done – the other is how do these revelation actually serve the general public by extending the whole idea of transparency and openess?

Let’s start with the first issue: the question you really need to ask yourself here is whether diplomats are able to continue doing their job if they have to conduct their affairs in a glasshouse in the full view of the public gallery? – from a normative and professional standpoint; I don’t see how this can be done – even lawyers have the benefit of the attorney client privilege – they have to keep things private and confidential, you could say the same about doctors and 20 other professions.

Harphoon: What is this attorney client privilege?

Missy Dotty: The idea of confidentiality is rooted in the law of evidence – it’s really a device to ensure the client discloses everything to the lawyer so that he can do his job with full knowledge – I imagine, if a diplomat is to find a solution to a problem; he too would need that sort of candor and frankness, that is why all diplomatic cables and memo’s are kept for 25 years and after that they are declassified and published in this publication called Foreign Relations – the basic framework of the idea as I see it is very similar to the attorney and client privilege. And the idea is at least 2,000 years old, so as a concept, it’s very robust and can be traced all the way back to Roman law—for example, during the trial of Marcus Cicero, while prosecuting the governor of Sicily, the prosecution was not allowed to subpoena the governor’s lawyer as a material witness, because if this was allowed to happen not only will the accused have lost confidence in his own defender – it would also have been in breach of the attorney client privilege – I guess if you really want to make a nonsense of Mr Assanges case where he claims there is compelling reason for confidentiality; you may even wish to ask whether it is right for example to make public medical records and allow physicians to discuss openly your medical conditions – we may even choose to ask whether the identity of minors in sex crimes should even be protected from the prying eyes of the press?

Harphoon: You mentioned earlier: the issue of how do these Wikileaks revelations serve the general public – I don’t understand Missy Dotty – wouldn’t it be right to say that anything where the public gets to know about something adds to the whole idea of openness and transparency?

Missy Dotty: No Harphoon, I cannot agree with that statement – I think what we may need to appreciate here is diplomacy is a vocational discipline very much like law, dentistry, medicine or any other professional job; so there are bound to be certain conventions, practices, protocols and processes that are unique to that fraternity – now please understand this Harphoon, I can well understand how most people may believe that just because Wikileaks will be releasing of over 250,000 U.S. State Department cables, that somehow equates to knowledge and helps further the course of transparency and openness – however, that idea misleads – because these cables offer only us only a very narrow peek into how foreign-policy decisions are made. What you need to appreciate here Harphoon is WikiLeaks is only releasing  transcripts and memos from the State Department. Last time I checked, other bureaucracies, such as the NSA, National Security Agency, the National Security Council, the Defense Department and the most importantly the Oval office does not even feature – so I think, if we are not careful, when many of us read these Wikileaks cables and memos; we may very well be like one of those blind man who thinks an elephant is like a snake, simply because he is feeling only the tail – I think when we talk about the larger geography of what really makes up U.S. foreign policy. The WikiLeaks revelations should be seen as only a source, not a definitive source and definitely not one that assumes an authoritative vantage.

Harphoon: Missy Dotty could you give us all an actual example where you mentioned earlier how these cables and memos can mislead instead of shedding more light into the minds of these diplomats?

Missy Dotty: I personally cannot claim credit for this observation that I am going to share with you now Harphy Boy; I believe the best person to discuss this matter with is the head of the ASDF, Vollariane – I spoke to him recently and he did give me a very good example a contradiction  Vollariane mentioned in some memo’s he noted how the Chinese officials seemed to be growing tired of their North Korean allies and forsaw a reunified Korea run by Seoul and allied with the United States.

The Guardian, following these leaks, hyped these cables as a signal that China was growing weary of North Korea’s bellicose behavior.

But what contradicted these memo’s was Chinese reaction was quite muted following the sinking of a Cheonan in March, neither did China censure North Korea harshly during the recent exchange of artillery fire between North and South Korea – so when you read the memo’s and compare and contrast them with the recent Chinese reactions; they hardly suggest that the leadership in Beijing will be washing their hands of the North Koreas.

I remember, I did ask Vollariane what he thought about this contradiction – and he said, without the context, its hard to judge whether the Chinese were talking about short, medium or long term projections about their relationship with North Korea – he went to say they could have just been speculating – so I think that goes to show you very clearly that these memos do not reflect the diplomatic outlook accurately – that at least is my own opinion. I am not an expert in diplomacy, but I do have some experience in International law to draw a firm conclusion based on what I have shared with you Harphy Boy, that is a very good example of where the information leaked and the actual facts do not corroborate whatsoever .

Harphoon: So what you are saying Missy Dotty is these Wikileaks cables and memo’s don’t come with the context that allows us to gainfully make sense of them?

Missy Dotty:  It might be like what the Greeks say Harphy boy, a bit of knowledge can be a very dangerous thing – readers I imagine would need to exercise care in teasing out the nuances from these cables and memo’s as so much is missing – not only context, as I have mentioned, but also diplomatic parlance – paradoxically, I would imagine one of the ongoing challenges for any reader is also coming to terms with the naked truth – in diplomacy, it appears baby Darkness was right all along – what you see is not always what it seems. By the way, how is Baby Darkness, we all heard, his car caught on fire. Now I know why he wears those strange mittens when he drives.

 

(The remainder of this interview with Missy Dotty has been cut short and withdrawn from general circulation due to Measured Response)  

“let me understand this correctly Singaporedaddy aka Sergei; you are the Pro-Consul of this region are you not?”

“That is correct your highness.”

“And what you have come to tell us, is this; sometime at three this morning, 70 Liberati deep cruisers lanced our galaxy; parachutist and sabotuers were landed in Prima Maritima to disable power, communications and render our all our defenses inoperative; at the same time; seven divisions of your elite Sardu-Khan seized control of all the main routes with the use of over 19 armored divisions and over 40 motorized units; your allies – the Totenkopft and Germania units then proceeded to disarm all the Carpathians and Freeman’s; you then proceeded to our senate and arrested every single person under the authority of Martial Law and declared the senate null and void – before day break a provisional govt was ratified – whose members were all nominated personally by you…Sergei, Pro-consul of the Brotherhood…and you are standing there right now and telling me, that all this was done to ensure my personal safety?”

“Yes, that is absolutely correct your Highness- what other motivation could there possibly be?”

The Prima Maritima Incident / In Sector 16 – extracted under the heading, “diplomacy,” from the Book of Ages – The Brotherhood Press.

Gentlemen,

Due to the unexpected demand in Malaysia – we will have to quadruple our gaming server farms there – there is only one problem; I do not want to pay premium rental; so what I have done is negotiate with the building owners in the vicinity of Bukit Bintang to rehabilitate their old buildings – many of them very impressed by what we did here: http://www.temasekreview.com/2009/06/30/one-day-when-a-old-building-became-new-again-in-bukit-bintang/

I think Malaysians generally have not got used to the idea of people swinging around like monkeys. They are very impressed by all these antics. The important thing is they like the quality, speed and know-how and most importantly our delivery reliability to the project completion, so I want to capitalize on this quality assurance; by rehabilitating many of their roof top sites that is currently impossible with their current technology – I believe we can rehabilitate much of their scaffolding and render them sound and safe- I will come to the point:

(a) Only those with at least 3 solo climbs will be considered.

(b) Fitness level is the standard 45 min 20 km / if you cannot make this grade, pls dont even consider.

(c) In addition; you will be put through your paces under the supervision of JDAM and Pumpman – they will evaluate you on three key points – coolness under pressure; knowledge of rescue techniques and finally, your ability to work through issues will be key.

Allow me to just point out what I term some critical issues which we learnt from our last climb in Bukit Bintang – although in the last mission we had zero accident; we did encounter some issues – some of these problems were machine and method related, but the predominantly factor, I believe was the failure of many crews to upload the best practices into their missions; so I will go through the pointers one by one:

(a) Multiple Anchor Set Up

(b) This the set up for a descender rig

In our last climb in Bukit Bintang; we did not experience any emergencies, as it went off like a well oil commando operation – however, what is important to stress is many of those climbers were extremely experienced; so that was a professional crew –  I think it may be a good idea to practice some rescue techniques before we go to Malaysia – so I have come up with a point by point training program – kindly check your timetable and set a minimum of 48 hours for training.

That will be all Gentlemen – this year the Germans and the Swedes will be joining us for the Malaysian climb – I will be the team leader – Darkness has decided to sit this one out.

Team leader and safety officer

Harphoon

If this doesnt take the cake for raising the delusional bar to renewed heights, then I really give up- Wikileaks revealed recently Than Shwe, chief of the armed forces in Burma once expressed an interest to buy Man Utd and urged his grandson to pitch for the fame football club according to a leaked cable.

The cable, seen by The Guardian newspaper, disclosed how the regime intended to use the power of football to distract its population from ongoing political and economic problems.

A $1billion bid would have been enough to acquire a 56 per cent controlling stake in the club.

This state of cognitive dissonance is nothing new – the $64 million question is why does it afflict some leaders – while no one denies, there may be differences of opinion as to how some of us view the role of the mainstream press, religion and certain values that we all hold dear – why do some views become so divorced from reality that instead of reflecting the real world; what they do instead is measure it according to some inverted scale that has very little to do with reality?

I think there might be some lessons we can all learn here – speaking from a personal standpoint: a few years ago. I got myself involved with some folk from a church – I wouldn’t say they were so cut off from the mainstream that they were like the Amish or some doomsday cult, but it wouldn’t be all together wrong to say; once you identify with a community; then whether you like it or not – you just have to play by their rules.

In my case, I just didn’t feel that the rules made a whole lot of sense – I couldn’t for example understand why God would want to impersonate Bob the Builder and take a childish interest in experimental architecture, that to me smacked of contrived reality – neither could I understand why the man upstairs always needed a bit of money all the time (I mean what is his problem?Madoff is still alive right?) – at the end of it; I just chucked it all in – it was a scam, that’s the truth and nothing but the truth.

My point is, it’s all too easy to get swept away by group think and the herd mentality and not even realize it – coming to think of it, it’s so easy these days to surrender the “I” for the “we,” than to hold on to anything that resembles a real identity- that could be one reason why, when we look at society these days, it’s so generic instead individualistic – these days people aren’t individuals as much as members of a distinct group to which they belong too- in a sense that spells the death of the thinking individual; in the way a drop of red ink just swirls only to disappear in a glass of clear water – and the funny thing about the world is, it always rewards team players instead of those who choose to go their way. And that’s just a polite way of saying it doesn’t pay to stick out like a nail in a society that expects everything to be neat and tidy. You’re just going to get beaten down.

But I think sometimes you just need to fight very hard to be your own person – I am not talking about standing on a soap box and shouting to the whole world that if you don’t slouch you stand 2 inches taller. I am talking about that vital life skill that prevents you from falling into the same trap where you become so divorced from reality – that instead of seeing the world for what it is; you end up seeing it for what others want you to believe in. 

There is a difference – only I don’t see how one can even be mindful of these subtle nuances if you don’t even bother training your eye to see the world obliquely with a curious and questioning mind. I am not for one moment saying that everything in this world is bent; or there is so mavelovent force that is out to do you in; or that power cannot be trusted and politics is just the art of possibilities for the strong and powerful to manipulate the weak.

I think when we really think hard about it – none of us are trying to change the world; when we elect to see the world for what it is; instead of what it is so often represented by the apparatus of mass assimilation. That thing being preserved may just be the lost art of peering into darkened interiors to make out patterns, some may say that nothing much to shout about – but to me, as long as we continue this tradition; that’s enough assurance I need to be convinced most of us will never be engulfed in darkness like those delusional Generals  – because we all know the world is never as simple as how it’s so often represented.

So if you’re brand new to the brotherhood press, let me just say welcome; if you’re been with us all this while – then thanks for keeping the faith.

Darkness

(Parts of this essay has either been shortened or deleted due to measured response – to understand the full implications of Measured Response please contact the friendly Saffron Route Liaison officer of the Brotherhood -Kadjal)

“Many delusional people like to believe the Communist Chinese come to Singapore to learn some hidden arcanum about our statecraft – if you listen very carefully to the official rhetoric this is their favourite tune – to me, it’s the highest form of conceit – as what they are obliquely trying to say is: hey look at us, we are doing such a good job that even China considers us worth emulating.

But these a delusional people. Many years ago, I was in China, it was somewhere in Harbin. We were waiting for a small plane to take us Shandong, there was nothing to do so I wandered around this aerodrome; it belonged to the Ministry of Agriculture, in one of the hangars, I saw what appeared to a J-11B, the undercarriage was all mangled up. It must have crash landed or something. Before one of the guards could shoo me off, I caught a glimpse of the afterburners, it looked a standard AL31F assembly, but this was different, it had two extra vanes and the manifold tapered like a duckbill, that’s something the Russians never ever do; only one firm in the world can produce such a design, Grumman and I am sure the Americans would never sell them such an advanced jet engine – so who did it belong too? From that moment on, I realized the Chinese may have developed their own engines. I think it is important to see the world for what it is; rather than what some of our politicians may want us to believe.”

Pierre Png, was recently accused of road bullying by another motorist. According to the anon accuser, Mr Png’s car swerved into his driving lane and he had to slam his brakes to avoid an accident. When he honked at Mr. Png’s car, the actor stopped his Mercedes car in the middle of the Pan Island Expressway and came out of the car to confront him. The accuser even managed to snap Pierre.

When confronted, Pierre naturally blamed the other party for reckless driving – but my shit snooper tells me, this story just doesn’t add up – firstly, its reckless to stop a car in the fastest lane on an expressway. If that were such a great idea you would get droves of couples tying the knot in the ECP. Or schools would organize field trips for kids to walk and camp around lane 3. What blockheads Pierre needs to understand is though he has every right to be enraged, he has no right whatsoever to endanger the lives of other motorist – and while we are at it, let me just go into some detail as to why it is a really bad idea to bring a car to a stop in Lane 3 – main reason for this increased risk is reaction time – that’s the time it takes between perceiving a danger and reacting to it. Consider this example. Two cars are cruising along the same road. Car 1, travelling at 65 kilometres/hour, is overtaking Car 2, which is travelling at 60 kilometres/hour. An blind auntie in a Two metric ton SUV– let’s call Mildred – emerges from a driveway just as the two cars are side-by-side. The drivers both see what’s happening and both take 1.5 seconds before they fully apply the brakes. In those few moments, Car 1 travels 27.1 metres and Car 2 travels 25.0 metres. The difference of 2.1 metres might seem relatively small, but combined with other factors it could mean the difference between life and death for any of the motorist and possibly any cats around the vicinity – so as you can see when you plonk a stationary car on the fastest lane of an expressway – it’s almost a mathematical certainty to cause either a massive pile up or end up with something really sad- I kid abbot many things, but I never kid about driving safely and within the speed limit, never.

Pierre should grow up instead of behaving like a spoilt child. One thing is for sure, we would see Pierre endorsing any cars for a long time.

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Right now he needed to find somewhere safe, somewhere sane to take cover from the swirl in his head, not to run away from reality but just a moment to calm his nerves and plan his next move.

3 days had passed since the leaks – helman was dead, so was Sergei and there was still no reply from Ana’s answering machine; they were all dead except him  – the firm had disavowed him; he had tried the number they had given him 5 years ago; nothing except an electronic voice stuck on a grove – neither could he contact the man in Lake Geneva; and suddenly he remembered a distant voice in the past, “You can’t trust those bastards, once they’re used you, you’re on your own” And for the first time, it dawned on him; his Geneva contact was probably dead, lying somewhere with three slugs in his head like a bowling ball.

The man turned the corner thrusting his pockets deeper into the wind cheater – there along the river men, a line of men stretched; they all looked the same, faceless, purposeful and with an intent – he was lucky, today they were just angling – tomorrow, he though maybe they would be fishing his dead body out of the river.

That was enough to jolt the man from his reverie – now he had to remember who he used to be; he had to summon up the past. The man knew the firm had recruited him because of his ability to remember things – they gave him the call sign Minox, it started as an innocuous joke but soon it stuck – Minox, the man with the photographic memory; once during a tour in Urumqi China he glimpsed for 5 seconds the inner layout of thruster – that same day; Minox drew it all out – every single panel, rivet, right down the spacing of the nuts and screws were accurate right down to the millimeter –Before that he had paased information to an agent in Cairo about how the Israelites were going to blast off the 500 kg military satellite – minox had provided clear dates and times as to the trajectory and fly path of the satellite, christened, Havell.

But that was many years ago – instinct told him to go back to basics; he had to think like a field agent agent.

There was one last way to get through to his contact – it was a long shot; a secure radio signal communication dish masking as a TV dish in the remote village in Kalmykiya, Russia. Two days South of Moscow and a hundred or so miles north east of Stavropol – it stood at the top a disused water treatment plant and three days ago, the man had checked Google earth, it was still there, a little worn, but he could make out the circular outline of the dish clearly – this was the man’s lineline, it transmitted directly to one of 107 military satellites that Norad regularly tracked – only this frequency was only used in an emergency -in the event his cover was blown.

The man punched the buttons slowly into the computer – he had all these years hidden it as a childs game and now it would be his lifeline; it was an analog system that predated the new digital version of how to send a message through a satellite – as each digit was typed in somewhere high above the steely blue skies of Kalmykiya and beyond; a forgotten American satellite in geo-orbit began piqued its antennae as it stirred to life like a sentinel been shaken out of a dream – that same evening; Minox went back home as he always did every evening at 7.00 after bible study / as usual, after reading to his sons he retired to his study at 9.00; at 1.00 am as usual he turned in – that night as he nursed a bourbon; the man realized, he would never see them again – that was the only way to ensure their safety, there was no other way.

36 hours somewhere in Washington DC, along Allison Street – a disheveled Oriental man with horn rim glasses checks into the YMCA – his name is Dr David Yu, Chief Design Engineer in Shengyang Aeronautics – so says his business card; the clerk had been told the week before there would be a small Aerospace convention in the University of Washington; it was a small affair, nothing big – but for some reason; the man had insisted for the room with a view to the Potomac.

(To increase the font size to make it more readable – hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +) Recently, Mini me Lee Hsien mentioned gleefully how Judgment Day had arrived early for the EU, check this out: Prime Minister’s speech at the fifth anniversary of Comcare – he went on to say – the model of a comprehensive welfare state was a big boo boo and now the European were paying big time for their altruistic folly.

Following his see what we did right that you didn’ t do stricture; he went on to pat himself and the PAP on the back my underlining how Singapore by virtue of its unfailing foresight  had wisely “avoided a massive welfare bureaucracy” unlike Europe, and relied instead on the “social security pillar” of Workfare yada yada yada yad yada yada yada yada. Mini me went on to reiterate that Singapore “could not afford the welfare state”, given the fact that it has no hinterland and was lacking in resources.

A simple question: Is Mini Me Lee correct to have pointed out that one reason why Europe is economically ass fucked these days is because it was dun in by its lumbering social welfare system? Is it true to say that the great experiment on social welfare was doomed from the very beginning? Was Europe really living beyond its means?

Granted when one looks at Europe these days; the whole business of social welfare is not as self confident as it used to be; but I still maintain it’s cavalier to draw the simple conclusion the Europeans were wrong to dabble with the whole idea of the Welfare state or that the idea was prohibitively so expensive that it’s the root cause that currently mires Europe – my feel is historical context is required to first understand why Europe needed a social welfare system directly after the end of WW2 – instead of trying to draw a conclusion whether this or that is value for money or worthwhile once embarking by relying on a presentist attitude of what European history should have been; instead of must be.

historical observation suggest, if not the inception of the welfare state in Europe: we wouldn’t even be here; most of us would probably be living in a post apocalyptic world; where the only net we would be preoccupied with is one filled with holes as we try to catch radioactive free Ikan Bilis in the Singapore River – I am serious, the inception of the welfare state in my view saved mankind from an ignominious end by preventing WW 3; and one reason for this was because; the introduction of the Welfare state was able sow the seeds of peace instead of sharpening the sense of enmity which was the main catalyst for both WW 1 & 2 –  the welfare state was singularly responsible for a slew of policies aimed at alleviating disadvantage and reducing extremes of wealth and indigence. The single greatest accomplishment of the welfare state was its success in curbing social and income inequality along with doing away with Europe’s moribund social class system. When we consider today in Singapore the Gini Coefficient that measures the gap between the have’s and have’s stands as one of the highest in the world – and we are still clueless as to how this income inequality can best be resolved – and compare how the Europeans creatively managed to create one of the most egalitarian societies in the history of mankind in less than 10 years following then end of WW2; then hopefully this will provide the contextual framework to understand why it’s disingenuous to claim that the Europeans have got it all wrong from the word go or that they were foolish to embark on a Rolls Royce social enterprise that they couldn’t possibly afford to pay for – fact of the matter is this: the welfare system was good value for money. 

The only reason why Mini Me Lee and the PAP continue to insist the whole idea of Social Welfare was a bane and a dangerous solvent that poses a threat to the mythical Asian work ethic is because it pays dividends to demonize the whole idea of social welfare – for one it allows governments to continue privatizing state owned enterprises and passing the cost to users; secondly, it legitimizes the whole idea of remaining bovine when it comes to helping the lowest segment of our society.

If the truth be known: one reason why the EU is so economically fucked these days has nothing whatsoever do with the Welfare state or even whether it is because Mrs Jesus is secretly buried somewhere in Paris – The problem with the euro is not Comme Ci, Comme Ça Greece either. Nor is it Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Spain or for that matter the UK’s believe; that all kids deserve to have free state subsidized lunches. It doesn’t even have anything to do with the French or German financial institutions that may hold the debt of these ailing governments – and least of all it has absolutely nothing to do with the welfare state – if that were really the case; the Scandinavian countries would be impersonating Greece and Ireland – they aren’t – the main problem with Europe is the euro – and the systematic problems associated with having to make a super single currency work – no one, not even the most seasoned banker or even a savy mathematician like Darkness can figure out whether the Euro will make it through this Christmas and beyond intact; all they can really is cross their fingers, hoping that financial turmoil won’t lead to currency turmoil – and this leads me to the nub of my essay; they may all have their different theories and formulations as to why the EU continues to languish, but none of these experts believe for even one moment, EU’s woes have anything remotely to do with their behemoth welfare state system, why then did Mini Me Lee link the woes of the EU to the welfare state? Maybe he has discovered something that we have always secretly known in the brotherhood press; to make something lousy really attractive and desirable, put in next to something that looks like shit – I wonder could that be one reason why so many people like to have to their photo taken next to Darkness? – that if you didn’t know could be the reason why Mini Me Lee strategically decided to plonk his four Styrofoam pillars of save Singapore next to a sorry story of sickman Europe.

(The rest of this essay has been withdrawn from general circulation from Singapore due to Measured Response – for more information as to this state of self-censorship please contact your friendly liaison officer of the Brotherhood)

“Stupid people will always underestimate the otherside – that is the nature of stupid people;I once knew a really stupid deacon who tried to set me up – guess what? I pretended as if I had no idea what his game plan was – that’s how you play the game with stupid people, you just go behind them like one of those cartoon characters and whack them over the head; is anyone here telling me that, that guy who in North Korea who has pancreatic cancer is a psychopath – hello, did I hear you right? I say, please think again; because even as we speak at this very moment – 6 out of 10 military satellites manufactured by everyone from General Dynamics to Rockwell is pointed directly at North Korea; 7 out of10 land assaults simulations in West Point have to do a worst case scenario that involves the 38th Parallel; 6 out of 10 naval training wargames are based on the Korean Peninsula theatre of operations and every listening post from Guam to Okinakawa is tunning into to what is happening in North Korea – and what does this guy have; he has his two guli’s and a couple of world war 2 relics as weapons and probably a his bunny foot key chain – that is all he has to negotiate with; and lets look at his trek record – he had 4 good years with Clinton – he got what he wanted; 6 hard years with Bush – and he ass fucked him as he did Clinton – so in every draw of the hand that so called “pyschopath,” has managed to bust the house to squeeze every single concession –  and you call him a psychopath, well if it was me…I will appoint him the honory head of Mensa…and if Mr Kim wrote a book about brink man ship, I will be the first man to stabbed in line to buy it. you can quote me. So if you say he is a psychopath…then I think, you’ve scaled it all wrong; that’s what he wants you to believe, he’s a washed up and a good for nothing, now you all know why Mas Selamat managed to escape – because let me tell you this; that pyschopath is the last person in this planet that I will want to play strip poker with…I Darkness do not want to play either scramble or Poker with Mr Kim & Family…and that is the truth and nothing but the truth.

You see, I happen to know the first rule of war very well – never ever underestimate your enemy…never! We are not like the Online Citizen; if you get it wrong, we will just cut you up! Nothing personal, its just another day in the office.” Darkness

(To increase the font size – hold down the Ctrl key and keep pressing +) This travelogue has been requested by the Timberlinger Gamers based in Munchen Bavaria to commemorate the 50th Meet of the next Confederation of Underground Gamers which will be held in Dubai for 2010 / This Travelogue has been jointly sponsored by the Interspacing Mercantile Guild and the Navigation Guild of the Brotherhood.


It’s like flying saucers. If you haven’t seen one – there’s no way to convince you they exist – now that you’ve seen the naked truth. Welcome to the point of no return – yes, it’s true, big is beautiful in Bavaria.
Yes, these are real shop front mannequins – yes they have tummies, thunder tights and are even slightly pear shape.
They might not be perfect, but they’re real. I can accept that, cellulite and all, because that’s how it is – truth is I don’t mind fat or even really ugly women.
Don’t even mind if they have fake tits (infact I quite like them) – but I draw the line on fake and pretentious people – this is real, so there you have it.
My body is a temple. But you know what? Sometimes it can be an amusement park. Yesterday it was a bus terminal. Today it’s a rubbish recycling plant. I have been walking since 5 and it’s high noon. I am hungry and this shit came from a corner shop in a rough neighborhood. I ordered lamb, salad, onion rings in a pita. The lamb taste like ears, nose and tongue – haven’t found the lamb yet;  the onion rings are soggy and the pita is definitely an overnighter   – besides I am surrounded by a bunch of lowlifes eating the same stuff – Looking around me, I don’t see a single one of them complaining. It’s rough here and it doesn’t pay to stand out like a sore thumb. The best thing to do in a rough and tough neighborhood is go with the flow – so I shove the guy next to me for more space for my bag and water and causally ask the leader of the pack, “where is the best place to bury a dead body around here?” That gets me into the inner circle – I blend right in and chow down this shit with the rest – it’s just fuel.
 
There are some things about myself I don’t feel the need to explain to anyone. All I know is my feet is killing me; I’ve taken off my shoes and socks to fix it in a high end café; some people across me are giving me highbrow evil looks; but what they think means a big fat nothing to me.
They can only affect me if I allow them into my personal space  – so there I was in my hermetically sealed private world. And there they were looking into my world through a porthole – at this point I may not know what my strengths are but I know my weakness is my busted feet – so whether it goes down well with their coffee and pretzels;  I really don’t give a shit. It needs fixing.
Coming to think of it, maybe I should give a shit? If I was sitting on the other side and watching myself do this; I would think it’s pretty odd and disgusting as well. But if I start thinking about what other people think. I am never going to get my feet fixed and that would just lead to whole lot of grief.
In life everyone needs a fuck off I don’t care switch – once that switch is thrown anything is possible  – you become very aerodynamic – thoughts and actions acquire speed, precision and purpose , there is zero resistance – as for those looking into the porthole at me they’re probably thinking this man has to be either so self-centered  or so confident about who he is and where he stands in this world that he sees nothing wrong about going about his business with his own rules  – I just wished I didn’t have so much problems convincing myself  I fall into the latter category  – maybe I am just immature.
 
Wonder no more why I don’t ever drive in Munich. Here is the mother of all confusions.  A tower of Babel of the road world. In broader terms it can serve as an allegory for how people see themselves and others, everyone thinks they are normal only because they are abnormal enough to believe they are normal. But what can you do when an abnormal person tells you are normal when you know you’re abnormal? Confused now?
Trust me, don’t drive in Munich, take a bus, train or better still stick to tennis shoes. Some things in life will always remain mysteries.
 
An old woman has lost something. I know. It’s easy once you have cultivated this bent of studying people. She’s looking for something. It’s written all over her face. I reckon it must have been a haunting loss. The type where something really important was probably snatched right out of her hands by a thief in the night – No, it can’t be a thing, people aren’t that furtive when it comes to things, not even money –  she’s got that distant searching look. In the way people sometimes gaze at distant star. It’s a dazzling light, but the light is from another age, place and time. Maybe the star has long burnt out and cooled to a dark cinder.  And all she’s trying to do is catch this dying light before it all streams out leaving nothing but darkness-  perhaps a father, mother, brother, sister…lover – he or she is somewhere in the folds of the distant past.
I know. I can sense this old lady’s yearning. I am a searcher and it’s a vampire thing. One searcher instinctively senses the presence of another searcher.
She walks towards me – she speaks pidgin German. I notice she puts the verb in front of her sentences  –  that’s a give. I try French. I score. We continue to play out pictures in her head . Suddenly as if remembering something she draws out a name – I know exactly what to do – it’s exactly like an online strategy role playing game only this time it’s for real – we buy a ticket to the Jewish  Memorial site.
I head directly for the third floor – there’s an archive in one discreet corner. Few people know it even exist;  less know there’s  a book with just reams and reams of names. Each neatly allotted a span of time and space….arranged neatly like refugees on a shelve that no one ever bothers with.
The guard wonders why I am wearing shades in this empty chamber. I remove them. I give him that, “please fuck off look.” He goes away. 
Eventually, I match the name to a printed page in one of the many books.
The old woman suddenly let’s out a quivering murmur. She runs her wrinkled fingers slowly across a name in the page like a touchstone.
Maybe she is bidding him farewell, saying hello or I remember. Or perhaps I am just filling up the blanks with my imagination – repeating a word adroitly again and again leaving behind a feeling of immeasurable emptiness – It’s a list of names of from those who once perished in Dachau (concerntration camp during the Nazi era). I leave quietly leaving the crumpled figure alone in a dark chamber….I don’t know whether what I did was right or wrong.
But I know it’s not a computer game.

We adults think we always know best; we constantly try to raise the bar on kids, especially if we think they are gifted. And the surprising thing about smart kids is usually they manage to jump through those hoops we put up. But the irony is when we do this time and again – without us realizing it, kids soon lose that sense of serendipity that only comes from learning through trial and error – worse they lose that deep spirited sense of accomplishment by figuring stuff all by themselves without adults – when that happens, they lose their innate elasticity that nature bestowed on them; they become hard like us adults and even begin to behave like us. And once they get into that hermetically sealed bubble, it’s almost impossible to get them really excited about anything.
That’s why I think we have to be playful and retain the kid in us even as adults – this idea of using ice cold river water to cool servers that can run as hot as furnaces must have cost a bomb to build – for the moment, they need tons of micro camera’s just to monitor the stability alone! Because most of it runs beneath the floor – I am going to kill the guy who signed off on this experimental project! (why doesn’t anyone tell me anything!). 
This new server farm is where virtual raw materials in any game are converted by virtual factories into virtual products such as ray guns, space ships and magnetic booties for all of you to buy using monopoly money. I spend a full day here – the director of the Interspacing Metal Exchange is accompanied by a representative of the Confederation – they give me a tour and I am even given the honor of commissioning this new server farm (what a bunch of dummies to even consider me worthy of such ceremony and pomp). This isn’t off the shelf stuff, every rivet, sprocket, push pin, bearing cover,  bracket, cam, mount, collar, pinhole and rail was built from scratch – it’s a prototype server that is cooled by icy cold water from the nearby river – if you didn’t know servers can get really hot and heat is the greatest enemy to any system – as what it does is not only slow down the transmission of data, but its like pancreatic cancer, it sets into motion a host of other problems – so the whole idea is when these servers get over heated, gates would be automatically opened to allow water to pass through these servers instead of using heat sinks ( I am just wondering why not just open the windows or use a fan?) – but these people keep insisting that it gets dusty around here – I am not convinced, but I smile any way – the whole idea is once the water comes out from the otherside its so hot that it’s sold to a nearby cottage brewery that uses it to either heat their premises during winter or to ferment beer (now you know why I never drink beer in Munich). The director of the IME tells us that one day this technology can be upscaled and commoditized and can even be sold commercially as a environmentally green idea – no one is convinced. The only people who are clapping are the Germans. The rest of us are asking ourselves how much did this cost? And why weren’t we told about this?
My only grip is it’s over designed by a factor of 10 (that’s something that I’ve noticed in Germany. If they make something, they design it in under the assumption that it must be able survive at least 10 thermo nuclear attack – everything is over the top!) and it’s just unbelievably costly – but I am going to shaddap and just smile, because the team who put this together loved, cared and nourished this project  like a kid who loves to do neat tricks with their bicycles – so who am I to start mucking up the party.
The EF0001 plant code was developed predominantly by the rubberband brigade – these are an anonymous group who have always shadowed the brotherhood – my sincere thanks goes out to many of them who have worked so hard to make all this happen – as what they accomplished here is something that we can never ever do even if we had ten life times –  so I am not going to be spoiler – for me when I see so much attention to detail dedicated to gaming it’s just poetry in motion – it just means that I am obselete and that’s incredibly edifying – as I am so dispensable that I may already be so useless and redundant, that I should consider doing something else with the rest of my useless  life – my gut feel tells me that’s something they never ever teach you in Harvard Business school – that IMHO should be the way to lead – drive yourself to the point when you become so useless and irrelevant; only then can you really be certain everyone else has been empower, enabled and knows the goal so well that even if you should not go to office one day, one month, one year or for one century – no one gives two hoots –  the system will still hums without a glitch – that should be the litmus test of every leader – to render himself useless!
I know now shutting my big fat mouth is the best decision I ever made when I visited the new server farm in Munich. (that’s not easy as I happen to be the grumbling type)
I just wished sometimes the kid in the man had a bit of accounting knowledge from time to time. I am just wondering; who the fuck is going to pay for all this! Singaporedaddy is punching numbers into a casio calculator, it’s smoking! He looks worried as he checks them off on a spread sheet.
The mechanism for the gating is complicated – this is the heart that allows water to flow to cool the heatsinks of the server – these gates are designed with two variable actuators that can vary the flow of water like paddles to keep the temperature constant to a factor of plus and minus 0.5% – after that we all argue over the patents, rights and how to divide the spoils / a shouting match ensues, insults are traded a fight breaks out, an idiot shout out, its just a glorified water pump, all hell breaks loose and someone threatens to call the police – I light a cigarette, sit down and watch this all go by – soon we hear sirens – so we all decide to get into the car for a drink and some chow – this is how politics is conducted with us and the guilds  – another day, same shit.
 
…here she is, all mine….finally, all mineeeeeeeeeeeeee, trying her best to give me all she has. The company is great. Yet 20 minutes into the meal; you’re still stuggling to get to beyond the crust of the pork knuckle.  It’s hard as armor plating. As far as the eye can see everyone seems to be tucking in. To the north of the table, our German host even offers a toast, to the east more of the same from a representative from the Confederation. Yet  I am still struggling. After 40 minutes, I pengshan (give up), cannot means cannot.
However, the sweets were great. One thing about eating in Munich is go local -that’s to say, try to avoid the tourist crowd at all cost and if possible eat where the locals eat – a good rule of thumb is to seek out places and locations tucked away from the main boulevard, if you want the real stuff. Finding authentic Bavarian cuisine has it benefits – firstly, it staves off cancer of the wallet and the results can only be described as incredibly satifying and rewarding.
Darkness 2010

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I like to continue the rest of this speech in English. That may have something to do with either my atrocious German or how much liquor I have been drinking…pourriez vous pardon escapee (laughter). I would like to begin first by raising a toast to our host the Interspacing Mercantile Guild. My friends, people are not so different from cars – some can kill you others can be incredibly edifying; fortunately most of the people who have come into my life have been very special – Herr Klauss who I met in University and brewed beer together is now the Chairman of Thyseen! Mein God! If only the shareholders knew how little we knew then about brewing home made beer and to think we used to call him, das kleine Arschloch (laughter from the crowd) – Tim, who used to run the site Icered in Hong Kong, Madeline who was instrumental in rolling out the first Singaporean E-Novel, the Confessions, Edmund and Pitcairn who I studied alongside for my Masters of Science in Derby; who sold their houses and back me up on starting the first underground clone LAN -that took the gaming world by storm – there are so many marvellous people who came right into my life; some that you may know; others who, I hope you will come to know – such as Kevin who once ran the Intelligent Singaporean and allowed us to push the envelop of blogging in Singapore – where we experiment with new ways of delivering content to our readers; then there was Amanda, Collin, Molina and of Course Meyer who pushed the gaming scene in our new operations in KL – these were the Mercedez Benz’s who pulled up into my drive way – and as a Soviet built Lada with roof rack – I have to thank all of them; every single one of them – thank you so very much – thank you…..thank you so very much for giving this beautiful life. Thank you.” (applause from the crowd) Darkness at the Lundendoff  Beer Hall in Munich / Bavaria on the 48th Confederation Meet – reported by Der Speigel auf Weishenburg of Anchluss. 

Prime Minister’s speech at the fifth anniversary of Comcare, I guess after reading this, it should leave you with the quiet assurance that the lowest segment of our society is well taken care of – after all with a veritable barrage of CPF, 3Ms (Medisave, Medishield, Medifund), HDB and Workfare – I am sure the poor are well taken care of right to the hilt.

There is however a few niggling questions that I have about these so called 4 magnificent pillars – firstly, how accessible are those schemes offered to the poor? Hate to be a spoiler; but we all know that just because something is on offer doesn’t always mean that it’s widely avaliable – that’s a common  misconception: as the real litmus test would really hinge on three main factors: user friendliness; turn around time and accessibility – For instance: what’s the point of announcing with great fanfare that you’re going to refund money back to commuters; when to get at the dosh; what they have to fill up a claim form that is 10 times more complicated that a job application for NASA?  See here: Overcharged fares: Refund simplified, new process in place, I give you the facts you decide.

Bear in mind the reason why I have specifically highlighted, accessibility, user friendliness and rate of turn is primarily because these are usually the main invisible roadblocks that prevent the poor and needy from accessing those provisions – think about it, most of them work back breaking 12 hour rotating shifts that leave them knackered after it’s time to punch out; they don’t have the luxury of internet connection and since free time is scarce, there is no way they can possibly jump through mile after mile of bureaucratic hoops just to get a rebate on this and that. So there you go, something to consider when you next decide to give one of your four magnificent pillars a coat of paint.

The other thing about the magnificent four pillars is how well do they factor in the cost of humiliation? You can only naively believe there is no such thing as the cost of humiliation, if you didn’t know to be at the receiving end of a hand out is one of the most demeaning human travesties. As not only does it entrench the idea of poverty into a social status; but it also amplifies that terrible sense of powerlessness into a social condition that allows the well off to con’t to look down on the poor, since what the poor are gaining access too will be considered a privilege; hence by default they the poor don’t even have such a thing as a right per se!And this should prompt us to consider whether we might be better off dispensing with this whole ritual of pretending to really care for the poor by simply instituting a minimum wage scheme?

It is however not humiliating to be on the receiving end of a right.

The question one really needs to ask from a philosophical standpoint is what is the real cost of structuring these help packages for the poor as privileges and not rights?—the way I see it since all of them require some nosey parker bureaucrat to investigate whether the applicant has sunk low enough to “deserve” help – in all likelyhood, these financial provision cannot be elemental “rights” in the true sense of the word. And if that’s the case: you really need to ask yourself; when someone is already down and out of their luck; wouldn’t this means testing prove embarrassing to deter more from seeking financial help

And this brings me to the nub of my essay – what if we treated humiliation as an intrinsic cost to society? In the way we would assign a negative value to customer disatisfaction or employee absentism? What if we can quantify the actual cost when people are shamed by their fellow citizens before receiving the mere necessities of life? What if we can calculate the cost of shaming to families and how it scissors through the whole idea of self-confidence and self-esteem. Coming to think of it, what if we factored into our estimates of national productivity, efficiency, and well-being the difference between a humiliating handout and a benefit as of right? Could we then conclude that the provision of something like minimum wage instead of relying of dehumanizing handouts is actually a more cost-effective way to achieve our common objectives? I understand the idea of floating minimum wage is an exercise that is inherently intellectually contentious: But unless we stand up and ask such questions, how can we even begin to believe that these so called four pillars can actually do the work that they are supposed to do? – provide for the needy in a way that doesn’t rob them of their elemental right to live with pride. (The remainder of this essay has been withdrawn from general circulation to the Measured Response)

“Darkness taught us all how to cook only one dish – curry. I put myself through university with curry. Curry is good for summer, autumm and winter, because you can add anything into curry, rotten mutton when it stands in curry after 24 hours taste delicious – you don’t get the runs – rotten veggies, blanched and added to curry taste even better; chickpeas are good as well; and a tin of dog food in curry gives it body, it goes well with a slice of bread, very full bodied – we all stayed in this whacked up house; in those days, squatters had rights; so you could just kick a door down and police could do nothing; they had to get a court order to get you out – and we had some really good lawyers living in this house. And in this house where 20 of us lived, we ate curry for breakfast, curry for lunch and curry for dinner. That’s why these days, I don’t eat curry any more, it gives me nightmares”

JDAM, a conversation / this excerpt has been cut short by order of measured response. 

I’ve asked the Confederation to discuss the prospects of investing further in Uranium; they are currently in discussion with our allies the Ottomans, Germans and Russians – I think we will go in tonite itself! http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=URZ

I believe as humanity inches closer and closer to an economic climate of scarcity – people will begin to question the whole idea of value – they will begin to look at their paper currency and wonder to themselves what is behind this? What really backs up the value of this piece of paper. When that day comes, they will put their money into metals – I could be wrong; then again, I could be right. Either way, if the negotiations with the guilds are favorable, we – the Brotherhood and our allies will invest in URZ.

Malaysia has managed to come up tops in many areas  – Air Asia, container ports, food and now it seems even newspapers. I came across this candid write up by an ex-diplomat published in the Malaysian rag – the Star. You can read it for yourself and perhaps ask the question, whether, we will ever be able to read something as frank and open as this in Singapore.

The way i see it, the press in Singapore is terminally stuck in the mud, the last time I checked, they were trumping figures about how kids these days prefer to read newsprint instead of toggling away at Starcraft.

I don’t know what the goal is here; but I recognize the motivation clearly: I can’t really describe it except to say, it can’t be so different from how mechanical typewriter manufacturers once conducted a poll during the advent of the digital age to prove that 9 out of 10 secretaries still prefer their typewriters to migraine inducing computers – no prizes as to who ended up deader than the dead in that war of the words – from the looks of it, history is set to repeat itself.

Then again maybe we can reverse the rot? But this would not require us to look inwards as much as Northwards…(this essay written by the brotherhood press has been withdrawn form general circulation due to Measured Response)
—————————————————————————————–

Anyone who is serious about safeguarding our image and protecting our nation’s standing in the world would be well advised to first consider how developments at home are affecting our image abroad.

According to a Bernama report, Deputy Foreign Minister A. Kohilan Pillay recently indicated in Parliament that Wisma Putra monitors Malaysians who travel abroad as well as those who reside overseas “to ensure that they safeguard the good name of the country and government leaders.”

He went on to add that “irresponsible” Malaysians are tarnishing our good name abroad and suggested that such people are “traitors.”

It is an odd admission that only serves to underline much of what is wrong with our country today and our misplaced priorities.

As someone who has spent over 36 years in the foreign service, much of that time living abroad, I can attest to the fact that Malaysia’s image is rarely tarnished by what Malaysians residing abroad do or do not do.

Of far greater significance is what goes on in the country itself.

More than anything else, it is the long and seemingly unending list of scandals involving corruption, mismanagement and the abuse of power that has done great damage to our international standing in recent years.

It has also caused international respect for our judiciary and law enforcement agencies to plummet.

There are the racial and religious incidents as well — church burnings, the cow-head incident, conversion issues, vitriolic racist rhetoric, etc, all of which have badly dented Malaysia’s reputation as a peaceful and tolerant multiracial nation.

It is no secret that these developments have had the cumulative effect of undermining foreign direct investment, worsening our standing on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index and weakening our competitiveness as measured by the World Economic Forum.

Our diplomatic missions are, of course, expected to promptly respond to negative reports about the country. It can, however, be a daunting task at times.

In these days of the Internet, when news travels around the world at the speed of light, even the response of an ambassador is often not enough to undo the damage that is done by events at home.

Anyone who is therefore serious about safeguarding our image and protecting our nation’s standing in the world would be well advised to first consider how developments at home are affecting our image abroad.

While Malaysians abroad ought to do whatever they can to safeguard the image of our nation, they have no obligation to defend politicians or political parties.

Politicians and other leaders will have to nurture their own reputations, like everybody else, by the way they behave, carry out their responsibilities and respect the trust that has been given to them. If they fail to live up to the expectations of the people who elected them, they should expect criticism.

Indeed, it is the politicians, of whatever stripe, who need to convince Malaysians, both at home and abroad, that they are deserving of our support and respect. In democracies, it is the citizens who monitor their government, not the other way around.

Only in countries like North Korea are all citizens expected to uncritically sing the praises of their dear leaders.

Malaysians living abroad have generally been loyal and supportive of their country. Indeed in many respects they are even more patriotic that those who never leave home at all — perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder!

During my time as High Commissioner to Canada, for example, the Malaysian community worked enthusiastically with the High Commission to put on an amazing display of culture and cuisine to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our independence.

As High Commissioner, it gave me much pride and joy to see my fellow Malaysians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds working together as a team to promote our country. Our guests were truly impressed by the vivid display of multiculturalism in action.

That is the spirit that largely infuses Malaysians living abroad.

Of course, Malaysians travelling or living abroad have sometimes been critical of the government, and for that matter, of the opposition as well. However, they are merely exercising their fundamental right as citizens of a free and democratic nation to express their opinion. Hardly the stuff of treachery.

Kohilan also does our diplomats a disservice by suggesting that they have been mandated to spy on their fellow Malaysians. It certainly does nothing to engender the kind of trust and goodwill that is so needed to foster closer cooperation between our missions and Malaysians living abroad.

What is it with us Malaysians that more than 50 years after independence we are still questioning the patriotism and loyalty of our fellow citizens and condemning as traitors those we don’t agree with?

And why do we seem to make a big thing about the mundane in distant lands and miss the monstrous right in front of us?

Kohilan might want to give some thought to these questions, unless, of course, it is treachery to ask.

Datuk Dennis Ignatius is a 36-year veteran of the Malaysian foreign service. He served in London, Beijing and Washington and was ambassador to Chile and Argentina. He retired as High Commissioner to Canada in July 2008.

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“Hey, hey, hey…I am JDAM, I have know Darkness longer than anyone here in the internet. When the net was young, that was when you had people like Cobalt Paladin, Xenoboy, Kitana, Ben and Kuekh Teow man blogging – we were already here…but that is another story – Why is it, Temasek Review and their masters have not moved against Darkness? You want to know why? They have not moved against him because he has enough digital information to blow them all sky high, these people were stupid, they thought he was just another blur fuck like Dr Joe who was dumb enough to believe in the power of the internet – the truth about Darkness he has not illusions; the first day that guy stepped into Wayang Party, he knew exactly where and how deep to cut –  bear in mind, this is the same man who won the International Spycraft competition twice in a row, he whopped Hiroshi Kondoh and put him in a pine box – and let’s be honest about it, we all know its not possible to ace it twice, once is hard enough, but twice is like lightning striking the same spot; so let’s call a spade a spade, Darkness cheated – but the strange part, they couldnt prove it; the Spycraft people flew in a team from San francisco and Silicon Valley, after reviewing the data, they said, Darkness won it fair and square, that’s bullshit man! – they just said it was skill, but that is all crap. Well Wayang was like that, it was a heist! An information heist!

Now coming back to Wayang where was I… throughout his stint in Wayang Party, he downloaded so much incriminating digital data that he could probably sink an entire fleet of battleships!

I am not kidding and the funny thing was when they found out about it, he was gone, there was no trace, nothing like a ghost whoooooooosh!- the problem is these people do not even know where to begin look for him in the virtual; yes, you can start by googling the word Brotherhood – but you have to understand, we are known by 74 vernaculars and at least 407 references in the virtual – so where do you even begin. If I was the guy heading the cyber division, I don;t think I will be able to sleep…you see there is one question that all of us have been asking since Darkness jumped out of Wayang Party, where did he stash all that digital loot?……I don’t even know!…..Checkmate!”

This is from JDAM captured by an autobot crawler – The brotherhood press

Recently, Lim Swee Say PAP Minister without portfolio said he hopes to “see a continuous steady increase in the median wage for workers over the next 10 years,” according to a report by Channel News Asia – what does that tell me, well since I was 4 years old, I have long since realized that anything that features the word, hope means – possibly at best and a big nothing at worst.

I mean it may come as a big surprise to Mr Lim but I don’t hope to get paid next month, I know – what abt him, does he hope to see all the numbers in his POSB account line up next pay day? But when it comes to the most needy members of our society, he doesn’t mind winging it on a hope and a prayer. this callous use of language shows not only the lack of commitment on his part to come up with something concrete to help those in the lowest rung of our society – but does it also demonstrate our contempt for those who are poor?

By now you have probably figured out, the nub of this essay is not to waste my time talking about the ineptitude of Mr Lim – I want to talk about the real reason why we as a society, a people and a community have so much difficulty even imagining living in a world from the one whose inequalities trouble us so?

Have we lost the capacity to empathize with the poor? Then again in this age; such a question sounds valecditory does it not – let me try again… Why is it so beyond us to conceive of a different set of arrangements to the one where we leave it all to the free market?

Let us first begin by giving our cognitive dissonance a name and a face – could it be said our inability to close the income gap between have’s and have not’s can only be described in polite terms as discursive?

I use the word discursive in the Greek sense – and in this context, it’s closer to a verb that conjures up the German: abschweifend  – the more I think about why we can’t seem to break up from the rut; the more convinced I am abschweifend captures the pathos beautifully – as the real reason: why we cannot extricate ourselves from the death grip of leaving income and wages to the free market has something to do with our scripting, or social DNA.

To understand why this: we may need to learn to forget; rather than to try to learn new things – you can even say, our condition is rooted in our history – eversince independence, when asking ourselves whether an initiative is worth, we have not asked, is it good or bad? Instead we inquire: can it pay for it’self? How will this affect our GDP? Will it make the bottom line bluer?

This propensity to avoid moral considerations, to restrict ourselves to the narrowest sliver of the argument – where it could be said, we are prepared to gut out moral and philosophical questions, it must be recognized is not an instinctive human trait – man I am reminded is a social animal – he is not a selfish motherfucker. It is therefore an acquired state of mind. And if we genuinely desire to understand our pathos as to why we continue to be bovine about the plight of the poor. A good place to begin would be to start with a long look at the man in the mirror-(The rest of this essay has been withdrawn from general circulation due to Measured Response. You may experience breaks and sudden cut offs during reading. For a full detailed explanation as to why Measured Response was instituted pls contact the Internet Liaison Officer of the Brotherhood).

We have been here before. In 1905, the young William Beveridge—whose 1942 report would lay the foundations of the British welfare state—delivered a lecture at Oxford in which he asked why it was that political philosophy had been obscured in public debates by classical economics. Beveridge’s question applies with equal force today. Note, however, that this eclipse of political thought bears no relation to the writings of the great classical economists themselves. In the eighteenth century, what Adam Smith called “moral sentiments” were uppermost in economic conversations.

Indeed, the thought that we might restrict public policy considerations to a mere economic calculus was already a source of concern. The Marquis de Condorcet, one of the most perceptive writers on commercial capitalism in its early years, anticipated with distaste the prospect that “liberty will be no more, in the eyes of an avid nation, than the necessary condition for the security of financial operations.” The revolutions of the age risked fostering a confusion between the freedom to make money…and freedom itself. But how did we, in our own time, come to think in exclusively economic terms? The fascination with an etiolated economic vocabulary did not come out of nowhere.

“If you come across a roadblock and you go to someone like George Yeo, I am sure he will work the numbers in such a way even if it cannot be done, at least, the issues you raised will be exhaustively debated and given the rigor of intellectual treatment. But with Zorro, all he has to say: it is too hard lah! So from there you know that this fellow is a light weight, the serious men can never do business with him. Don’t say I am personal, I have a right to form a character opinion about any public figure, if he talk cock. If you say I got no right, then pls go and arrest big daddy lee he call people in n.Korea bad word”

AIB & SNV – Latest Update

December 2, 2010

Sell these two counters before 12 am Singapore time – I have instructed the Russians and Germans to sell at 1.00 am / I know it’s not much just under 10% / but that’s as good as the market will yeild for now – today, we run – tomorrow, we fight another day.

I think our innings are not bad.

NBG: 13% in 2 days
AIB: 7%
SNV: 9.5%

Don’t spend all your money in one place – when the time is right again – we will all hunt again – like one big happy family.