Financial IQ

January 11, 2017

For one to play well. One would do well to familiarize oneself with how the game is actually played….it would seem all that one really requires is the rules of how the game is played. Like perhaps how placing a chip on a red slot – pays out half, if the ivory ball lands on a red slot in the roulette wheel. Or should one decide to plumb for a numbered slot, it pays out triple should it hit home.

Yes….those I imagine at one level of understanding may well be all there is to the rules that make up a game of roulette.

But even if one chooses to be suspicious surely it’s conceivable there could be other rules along with other books that make the rules.

Now one more time please if you will – in your own time of course….are you ready?

For one to play well. One would do well to familiarize oneself with how the game is actually played….

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‘What I consider stranger than strange. That even manages to transport the word strange beyond it’s dictionary meaning is how Africans who don’t even know ABC. Or who think fridges are just nice cupboards to put clothes in seem to always have a better appreciation of finances – for one they always insist on gold.

That’s why if one wants to buy ivory, contraband coffee beans during the off season or maybe a Russian Mig 21 jet – it always pays to have a few kilo’s of gold bars.

Modern man specifically those who lay claim to sterling education and even regularly boast of being well read ALL without a single exception suffer from either a delusional or an atrocious appreciation of what is really money…value or utility.

I guess one reason for this brain leaching may have something to do with how nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else’s brain or opinion these days – till at some point, the disembodied mind becomes so saturated with nonsense it can only become impossible to learn the truth about money along with the politics and power of how governments and corporations conjure up the seeming illusion of value in it’s various delectable forms concerning – value, holding power right down to how km he defines the individual and organizational success.

In such a society where value is so scripted in such a manner to only benefit governments and corporations – our real wealth will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon institutional abstraction and corporate mumbo jumbo – here in the never never land of the financial supermarket – individual control over one’s finances is often illusionary and futile – as since the concept of value is further spliced into ever finer forms of abstractions such as housing loans, Medicare, pension funds, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, convertible bonds and shares.

And as our conception of value becomes that much more abstract so does our capacity to seek real financial liberation.

Hence for all our preoccupation about freedom and autonomy, there remains few choices that we are free to make. As since
political power is inextricably aligned to wealth in it’s inception. This alignment can only serve to destroy the wealth of the commons….now you know why the African is much more level headed chap than the best city slicker – after all, when was the last time you say him putting a downpayment on a pigeon hole. A space in air? Or for that matter splurging out a princely sum on a car that maybe cost less than 10K to manufacture?

No…. By every known definition – he has to be a very smart sort of fellow.’

A long time back ago. I raised Boonyi when her mummy didn’t return back to the nest. She was just a baby eagle then, could even fit into my breast pocket. Fashioned a head of a mommy eagle with old socks and plastic bottle caps – fed her so well that when she grew up, Boonyi became big and strong so much so she preferred to walk around and impersonate my dogs.

Eventually Boonyi grew so big I had to release her back into the wild – but eagles are crafty, they’re all born with a GPS and can always find their way back home. On one occasion when she was badly shot up and peppered with pellets – she crash landed in my plantation house and I patched her up.

Shortly after that she took right off again.

That was about three years ago – haven’t seen her since then. Till this morning when the dogs were barking frantically. When I rush out to check, it was Boonyi – she was strutting around like she always does in the yard again.

Don’t get me wrong. I am glad to see my old friend Boonyi again….elated even. But my joy is tinged with a keen sense of trepidation – as I know the nature of eagles well.

As they don’t ever return home unless something has spooked the shit out of them – and trust me eagles are up there at the top of the food chain…they don’t get frightened easily…so whatever it is…it’s probably has loads of razor sharp teeth and claws and it’s probably headed this way.

The more I looked into Boonyi’s frightened liquid brown eyes – the more they seem to express….farmer, something evil comes this way….I am very afraid.

It’s going to be another hard year at farming I reckon….possibly even harder than last year.

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‘Its very hard to get people excited about protecting the environment. Especially when they all seem to think it’s some dystopian future that has quite landed on planet earth yet…like maybe an alien invasion that’s yet to happen. But I don’t ever see the destruction of the planet as futurescape or for that matter anything that is predicated on tomorrow.

It’s happening right before my eyes and I see it everyday. No correction. I HAVE to see it everyday – you see I am like one those WW1 foot soldiers knee deep in mud stuck in a trench with shells exploding all around me. That’s how a farmer sees himself whenever weather boffins quibble endlessly about whether we have finally reached the tipping point.

It’s very hard to bear out patiently all these talk not without the help of 40% proof alcohol…single malts work well for me – we’re all like battle scared soldiers…people who always seem marooned in their own skull even when they find themselves in the bosom of one of those sappy saccharine laced save the planet meets – where everyone always seems so perfidious faced eager with their beaming smiles and sparkling white teeth – always ready, set to go – to demonstrate their willingness to assume the multitude of worldly guilts that may account for the real and imagined threats to our environment.

Usually by the time I had my third shot of whisky from a Starbucks non degradable polycarbonate cup that can last 200 million without ever decomposing give or take a couple of million years….usually that’s when I really begin to enjoy those meets.

If I didn’t know better perhaps I could take some measure of comfort somewhere in the velvety folds of the rah rah brigades deceptively reassuring message that they’re really interested to save people and planet.

I pour myself another drink…this time I don’t even bother hiding the bottle any longer.

Truth is like folk who have never experienced the hardship of actual combat – I know the only reason why they’re all too willing to assume guilt is simply because – it’s a way…even if it’s only a cockememe way..it’s nonetheless a way…a way for them to continue believing in that great lie – that it all depends on us! So we can also save ourselves from impending doom by simply changing our lifestyles by opting for hemp bags, trying to eek out a full year out from our yarn slippers made with tender loving care by vietnamese peasants who still work under the wan of lard powered lamps, munch on organic lettuce, using only one sheet of tissue paper and no more to wipe our ass.

You know the more I attend these meets…the more I am convinced I may actually be here for reasons other than to save the planet…if only knew what? I take another swig from the bottle.

I guess it’s their way to believe or maybe be part of a belief system that’s somehow larger than everyone here – so big that it might swallow us whole to make us believe that it could all make a difference.

This I term blob mentality – where everyone is a small blob and when enough blobs get together it just supplants every single individual thought and poof! It’s just the blob!

Truth is we all co-create our own reality like the fabled fan who supports his team alongside other fans watching some big screen TV, shouting and jumping from time to time whenever good seems to trump over evil – and when it goes the other way, we all sigh in the solidarity of the resignation, as if by being part of this mass delusion – we can somehow influence the game’s final outcome.

Not realizing even so much as once – it’s conceivable, that’s all we can ever do – hope that things will get better. It seems even when mankind is reduced to the role of a passive observer he’s never content to simply take his sit and watch what our fate will be. To avoid the gnawing feeling…suspicion…that all this could be for nought. In a desperate attempt to escape the tragedy of his own self imposed hypocrisy – he cheers harder this time and even shouts out at the top of voice….tomorrow will be better than today.

Now you all know why I don’t go to these meets any longer and much prefer to keep to myself. Truth is – they kicked me out…as when it was time for me to speak. I was completely plastered.

The world is certainly ending….It’s at it’s last turn…the proverbial coda and I am glad to still belong to it…for as long as it last.’

Real revolution defined

January 10, 2017

In the moment of my youth. I believed to make the world a better place – I had to stand up on a soap box and shout out the truth as loud as I could till my lungs hurt. But as I grow older. I realize it’s conceivable that belief may have been misplaced and possibly even downright wrong.

If the imperative is to save people and planet….it could well be a very private matter that doesn’t require any shouting at all. Rather it is quite an unexciting and mundane process that requires one to work on oneself daily and to allow the goodness within the self to grow like a tree to reach out beyond to the outer world.

Maybe that is a surer way of saving people and planet.

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‘I am inclined to see a revolution as a very quiet, low key and private affair – for me, it’s never full frontal and right in your face like Joshua Wong and Amos Yee. It’s the opposite of big, brash and loud – minuscule and seemingly insignificant to a point where it may not even be register with anyone except maybe yourself and perhaps your pet goldfish.

You know I own two parcels of land – one is here and the other is over there. Every time I need to travel…usually, I drive my diesel guzzling four by four, it’s noisy and I imagine if you add up all the trips, it has to be awfully toxic to the planet as well. Recently I made a commitment to use my car less and get on my bike more. So these days I commute mostly by bicycle.

It’s a very small revolution to save people and planet…so small that it may not even seem to make a difference….but that’s how I see it.

Did the same by cutting down on toxic herbicides last year from sixty gallons to virtually zero – as I am mindful of how herbicides can poison groundwater and even leach into the rivers to eventually affect wildlife and ultimately transform humans into zombies.

That involved researching extensively on how to use friendly weeds to suppress aggressive weeds – many trials were conducted…many failures, but one strain survived and thrived, so now if you visit my plantation, you’ll see a lot of cover crop, it’s very green and maybe a bit messy – but don’t let it all fool you – as a quiet revolution is occurring right before you – the good weeds are slowly and surely killing off the bad – this can only improve yield and produce safe crops without having to cannibalize and ultimately leave the land dead and lifeless….above all it’s ecologically sustainable….maybe I will publish a paper in the agronomy journal some day. Maybe not – again it’s a very quiet revolution with just one nondescript man plodding along planting strange weeds in one obscure corner of the world…far removed from the panoptical spot lights of the pineapple eyes of the world.

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My point is real revolutions are very small, often seemingly insignificant even….but like the bicycle and good weeds don’t let mere appearances fool you – as it all adds up and if more people can do simple things like consume less…it can be a very big revolution.

As at times even the most mundane and uninspiring of acts such as waking up and joining the rest of the human race to work, may well be an act that requires nothing short of uncommon valor and courage. As life can be challenging and requires nothing short of a personal revolution to get on top off. The father who skips lunch so that his kids can have an extra dollop of ice cream. The mother who waits patiently in the hot sun for her kids after school – the family man who continues to smile and brings laughter to his kids even though he realizes the future doesn’t seem that bright….as the world is changing not for the better, but the worse.

Like I said that how it is – real revolutions are all quiet, small and often so whisper silent that they might just past you by.

Well that’s all for now….it’s five in the morning…the sun will break soon. I need to dress up and fight the good fight. Have a nice day in the land of the small revolutions.’

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Small House – Part 2

January 9, 2017

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I will build it, 15 foot longer and maybe 3 foot wider, plan to have it on 14 foot stilts suspended in the air – the extra space would be to store farming stuff. As for the space below I can use it as a car park and a shelter for my dogs to either laze around or dry out during the rainy season.

Being raised that high is important in the tropics. As firstly, it’s super cool during the dry season and will not be prone to dampness and creepy crawlies….very clean.

Project Difficulty: 8

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I like this idea of a platform to either laze around, read a book or maybe just chill. I like it very much. I even know where to get hold of Connolly leather as I have good connections with tanneries due to my past work experience as a shoe artist. Project difficulty, maybe 6.

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Dark, sombre and minimalist lines naturally appeals to my nature….I am not so sure about the bin though.

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This I like very much and can build without too much fuss. I especially like the spartan feel of the whole set up. Project difficulty: 2.

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Since the shelter will be off the grid – I will only have six hours of solar powered battery time, which means lighting would have to be supplemented with candle power.

I am not too bothered about heat build up. As during the night it’s usually freezing in a plantation. I guess I could rig up a generator – but my feel is that would add unnecessary clutter to the whole philosophy of a shelter…that is to live a minimalist life that is always kind and considerate to Mother Nature.

Project difficulty: 1

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This I consider the piece de resistance – an island cook module complete with raised skylight and an oven – this I absolutely cannot do without and shall copy 100% right down to the last rivet. As cooking is meditation to me. I rarely ever eat out as I am a professional chef and nothing gives me more pleasure than to cook at the end of hard day’s work – with the oven I can bake cookies as well….again not so sure about the bin.

Project difficulty: 5

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“No te amo como si fueras rosa de sal, topacio
o flecha de claveles que propagan el fuego:
te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras,
secretamente, entre la sombra y el alma.

Te amo como la planta que no florece y lleva
dentro de sí, escondida, la luz de aquellas flores,
y gracias a tu amor vive oscuro en mi cuerpo
el apretado aroma que ascendió de la tierra.

Te amo sin saber cómo, ni cuándo, ni de dónde,
te amo directamente sin problemas ni orgullo:
así te amo porque no sé amar de otra manera,

sino así de este modo en que no soy ni eres,
tan cerca que tu mano sobre mi pecha es mía,
tan cerca que cierran tus ojos con mi sueño.”

Small house

January 8, 2017

I like this very much.

I plan to build myself such a house on my new land to the West. It will definitely not be as high end. As I want keep cost super low. That means I will build it out of scrap that I will probably scrounge around the junkyard and remake to be pretty.

I am excellent with my hands can – technical climb, fashion pulleys and winches to lift heavy stuff, weld, plumb, tile, wire, brick lay and work expertly with a mallet and chisel to fit wooden joints without nails.

I plan to work on it once I cut down the old palms and begin growing bananas for a change.

It will be fun and functional and I imagine ultimately necessary in the long run to have such a shelter entirely powered by solar and batteries. That would certainly give me loads of options – to stay there overnight or maybe a few days instead of having to drive all the way back to the plantation house – to cook a bit or just as a place to sit and relax under a tree with a bottle of chilled white wine. Or maybe I will just take a nap in the cool embrace of nature.

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‘I put myself thru university by holding down a wide variety of jobs. I wasn’t too picky. Anything that paid. I took gladly. At that time I just saw it as a hard grind…a dogs life…a lowly soldiers lot – as I was always tired and no matter how hard I scrubbed. I always seemed to have dirt underneath my nails and smell of grease – while the rest of the other students all looked so clean and well rested and carefree.

I remembered those days as mostly cold and muggy – heartless even with steely clouds that for some reason always resembled the harshness of steel wool – in the early morn when I would trudge to work I would often look up at the godless sky….it always seemed so dark and angry then.

But as I grow older for some reason the clouds look softer. Benevolent and at times playful. Maybe it’s all coming back…the good stuff that I once considered bad.

I guess what I am trying to say is I am very thankful for all that work experience. I now understand….I understand completely.

As a tower technician. I learnt how to climb confidently and safely in rain, sleet and snow without ever peeing in my pants. When I worked as a technician in a nuclear plant – I learnt how to work safely and respect things that can kill in a blink of an eye. As a carpenter. I learnt the discipline of keeping all my tools always razor sharp, clean and well oiled. As a shoe artist – I learnt the importance of having the end in mind from the very beginning. As an undertaker I learnt how to dress impeccably to pay respect to the dead, living and institutions and to always carry myself in a serious way. As a bodyguard. I learnt how to anticipate danger and to trust only my instincts. As a game keeper I learnt how to remain still for hours like a lifeless stone and to kill with only one shot to the head. As a dog handler for a security firm, I learnt that proud Alsatians will only obey your commands – if you respect yourself first and foremost. When I worked as a sewerage inspector – I learnt that dirt was never something a working man should ever be ashamed of no matter how others may look or treat you. As cook in a Cantonese restaurant. I learnt how whip up a meal in two minutes flat with orders coming in fast and furious. As a welder I learnt never to look directly into the arc and to only see with my ears by how the arc crackles and hisses as it liquifies steel. As a gardener, I learnt how to read the secrets and mysteries of each season and to bear out with great patience the unfolding beauty of nature that I eventually learn to love as it’s sentinel. As a lift mechanic. I learnt how to humor and tame cantankerous machines and came to regard them as people with quirks.

Nothing it seems is ever wasted in life – not even if it seems a litany of grind – the most important thing is never to get hung up on status, prestige or to impose limits on oneself by saying – you can only do this and that is for people beneath you.

Absolutely nothing is ever wasted in life. Not even the hard and difficult times. As it will always come back like the proverbial boomerang.

Experience all things in life….the more the better. As it shall make you worldly and wise in the way of the working man.’

Last night I was asked to share my point of view on the likes of Alvin Tan and Amos Yee to a bunch of brainless youths. Who all seem to think these two characters are the best thing that appeared in the Singapore scene since the advent of kaya bread with Nutella.

This is my take.

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‘Seniors are talking here. So sit down and Shaddap, before you all fall down and make fools of yourself. Remember seniors are talking. If you all want to continue to talk then let me know I will happily go away and wash dishes or light an incense stick or whatever….OK.

You see it is very simple. I am not saying that these people don’t have a right to do what they are doing – if you ask for my point of view – it’s no big deal man.

You want to share pics of your pecker in instagram. No big deal lah. You want to stand up on a soap box and proclaim to the whole wide world if you don’t slouch and stand up straight. You stand two inches taller! No big deal either.

But the question here is how effective is that? How many people are you really going to get to buy into your conception of what is right or wrong?

Now a smarter way to accomplish all this with a Big Bang – is to first study hard, get a good job, earn and invest well and at some point start your own enterprise.

Be so good at it that you will even end up owning your own private jet, island retreat and if possible even consider starting your own foundation like George Soros, Aga Khan, Rockefeller et al.

Then once you’re on the top of the hill – then and only then, do whatever you want to do.

You want to know what? No one will bat an eyelid. Absolutely no one – as at that level of the game. You own everyone. Governments don’t like what you’re doing. OK very simple, I will pull out jobs out of your banana republic. Shut down enterprises and pack up like a traveling circus. How’s that? Don’t like me some more. OK I will get my attorneys to buy up a majority stake in Youtube, to filter information….and while I am at it, I will ban you! Still don’t like what I am doing? OK I will charter a heavy lift cargo plane fill it to the ceiling with gold bars and give it to the Russians on the condition they convenient engineer regime change. Still want to hassle me? Still want to put me in jail? OK I will buy Fox TV and CNN and forward my version of the truth against yours. I will also buy up Saatchi & Saatchi to further add spin on engineering consent on the mass and industrial scale. Buy all the stock pictures in this world of cute Panda’s and all the lovable furry animals to leverage on soft power…some more want?

Do you know this what really effective people will do to fashion their designs, especially if they are passionate about effecting real change in their lifetime.

Coming to think of it – do you ever see the free masons, Bilderberg Group, Bohemian Club, 322, Illuminati or Opus Dei posting stupid videos online just to get hits? Coming to think of it do you ever see the Mercantile Interspacing Guild doing all these things.

No…no…Never! They don’t ever do stupid low mileage things like take on officialdom with just two bucks in their pocket and a tube of Mentos – that’s infanticide…use your mentality!

These are very serious agents of change. Not like amateur night folk like you lot.

And don’t ask me how I know about such worldly affairs – because if I tell you. Men with no necks will rappel down Blackhawk helicopters and we would disappear from the face of this planet….poof!

My point gentlemen is there’s always a game plan that involves strategy, planning along with execution to move from the domain of theory to reality. The process is cold, calculating and very deliberate. Above all it’s conducted with stealth. The power of utmost invisibility.

That’s what effective people always do! They first position themselves to win! Not lose.

Above all they first work on themselves to be high performers and very effective people.

They don’t do stupid things like work as a waiter or crowd fund for their next meal – what kinda of stupid logic might that be! Think about it whether I put in an eight hour shift as a waiter or someone who is able to make decent money is exactly the bloody same – but the pay out is very different.

And this brings into focus one of the most important way points for positioning yourself to win – if you’ve got no paper qualifications, no life skills and only seem to get by with super glue and ductape to keep stuff from falling apart because you have no earning power – what kinda of revolution are Jon talking here!

Or all you seem to have is a bunch of imaginary friends who just visit your blog or Facebook page to click on the likes tag bar along with keep saying you’re smart – so what?

What’s the big deal? We all know that’s not real! I mean if you’re thrown in jail on trumped up charges at three in the morning and you call up your Facebook friends – none of them will ever bail you out like Superman. That doesn’t count!

If you think it counts then you’re stupid.

Like I said don’t get me wrong – I am not here to judge whether this is right or wrong. Do you all see me wearing a funny hat like King Solomon? Nope!

I am not here to judge anyone – I am just telling it the way it really is!

All I am saying is if you want to shake up the world – do it with a beginning, middle and end in mind.

Otherwise just put in eight hours of mugging time to get a passable grade in university. Land a cookie cutter job. Learn to say yes sir, no sir three bags full. Put a downpayment on a pigeon hole somewhere in Sengkang. Drive a second hand Toyota Vios and pray three times a day and hang a stainless steel crucifix in your car that no one in a Mercedes decides to do a U turn and drive head on at you at 120 kmh just because he can’t get his accounts to square. Marry a low maintenance girl. Learn to flip an omelette. Reuse your plastic seal bags. Wash your car with one bucket of water and no more. Pay your bills on time. Brush your teeth after every meal. Stay away from Char kuey teow and hope that heavy things don’t drop from the sky and crush you dead….because that is really your lot.

So what if you can speak and write well. But you’re poor. So what if you have the freedom to think whatever you want to think. But you don’t even have the freedom to walk into a restaurant to eat whatever you desire as you keep looking at the price list and finally settle on a cheap salad!

Freedom is wasted on you!

It is nihilism to talk about power and the capacity to influence meaningfully – when one doesn’t even have the power to take a cab and have to settle for a bicycle on a cold winter’s day.

If….if you don’t take my advise. Now you all see that door? Take a good look at it. I am walking right thru it. Bye Bye.

Just remember if and that’s a very big if….if you get that private executive jet drop me a line – as I have some ideas on how to shake up the world. But like I said, if it’s going to be a meetup at KFC on buy one get another free nite followed by Mengelembu ground nuts with ten people going Dutch. Then Dowan lah. As it will never ever come around…never!’

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Today I got into a very heated exchange with a bunch of really naive, good hearted zero streetwise folk who were all trying their best to recruit me by asking me to join them to raise funds for Mr Amos Yee.

I told these very naive people, not only am I not going to give one cent to Amos Yee. But I will also do everything within my power and range of influence in and outside the internet to stop others from doing so.

When these zero streetwise IQ goody two shoes folk asked me why am I so evil?

I simply told them all – Singapore is a chapter that has finally closed in Mr Yee’s life forever. It is no more. It came to the finality of the end, the very moment he tabled a case for political asylum in the US. And the best thing that all of them can do to assist Mr Yee is to encourage him to make it by his own steam in his new chosen homeland by not reminding him of Singapore any longer – after all, it is no more….a crisp and brand chapter stands before Mr Yee.

I wish him the very best of luck.

Should Mr Yee require any letters of reference to seek employment in ANY farm in the US. Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line – as not only am I a very prominent forummer and active contributor to countless farming forums in the US. I also happen to be a honorary member of the albino cyclops order of the KKK (I don’t think they know I am of Asian descent, just to warn you!) – I will be more than happy to arrange some farmer in Nebraska or Illinois to post him a spade and report for work as a farm laborer.

I really don’t understand how can you all say – I don’t have his best interest in heart when I am prepared to do all this and much more for Mr Yee.

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‘Want to be a revolutionary? Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan. But you must first learn to get by on your own steam – that is the first revolution every aspiring revolutionary learns….after all let us not talk about Revolution when you don’t even know how to stop the revolution of acid juice churning round and round in your stomach just because you dunno how to earn money to put five bucks on a combo meal in Long John Silver – after all Che Guevera worked as a physician. As for Fidel Castro he also worked as a lawyer. Even Adolf Hitler worked as a postcard painter in the streets of Vienna. Idi Amin was a career soldier. Stalin was a professional hit man. As for Alvin Tan he too is working as a waiter and an internet porno film star.

My point is all revolutionaries are first and foremost workers who have highest respect and veneration for the idea of dignity of labor!

There is nothing more edifying to a revolutionary than to apply himself gainfully to labor in such a way where others are willing to vote for him with their wallets. This is first dictum BEFORE any revolution can begin in the mind of the revolutionary.

Please understand I harbor no malice or ill will towards Mr Yee. On the contrary I have his welfare first and foremost in mind that is why I am so invested in his education as a revolutionary.

OK so you say – you want to be good hearted, caring and fight the good fight, that is why you want to donate to Mr Yee’s relocation fund. But what will eventually happen to a man or for that matter any man who doesn’t at some point in his life learn the wisdom of how to get by in this world by the sweat of his brow?

In what manner or for that matter logic might you be enabling Mr Yee to be a revolutionary?

I submit to you if you give him money – you are disabling him as certainly as surely as hammering nails into his kneecaps. How might the easy street steel his mind, clarify his philosophy of opposition to create the man who leads a revolution. Or for that matter supply the raw material for him to be a great revolutionary when he doesn’t even know basic life skills like how to earn his keep to buy a Big Mac?

What sort of pariah dog revolutionary might that be – who doesn’t even have the sagacity, discipline or resolve to put in an eight hour shift to buy a brain freeze slurpee from 7/11?

There is no revolution going on there….do you all hear me….are we all on the same page? – only perhaps the going round and round variety of revolution that invariably leads to nowhere….all of you are not enabling as much as disabling him from gainfully actualizing his dreams of be a revolutionary.

Please bear in mind I genuinely want Mr Yee to succeed in his life quest – that is why the best thing anyone can possibly do to help him actualize his goal is to give him absolutely nothing. Not even so much as card board shilling.

As it is only in abject nothingness that some thing significant can emerge resembling a true revolutionary.’

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It’s Tiger season….in the kampung the man eating tiger is like the UFO to city folk. Though no one has actually seen the tiger, but everyone is convinced, it must be on the prowl for human flesh.

Every year without fail. Just around this period when the clove scented winds blow hard from the East presaging the advent of the dry season.

There will be plenty of sightings of the dreaded man eating tiger.

Anything and everything it seems can be the tiger. A striped rock in weak light..Tiger. A bronzed cow bronzed ribboned by the shadows of the evening sun…Tiger. A distant bark of a dog…Tiger. Even people who may just be walking around minding their own business in faded tiger beer T shirts…Tiger.

Whenever this menace real or imagined seemingly appears. Usually the entire village is paralyzed by fear. Since fainting is still very fashionable with the kampung ladies, it’s not uncommon for two metric tons internal beauties to suddenly crash like timber without warning whenever the subject of the man eating tiger is mentioned.

Every year without fail. During this period of strife, I suffer from chronic backache. Either that or I have to be mindful to remain nimble so as not to be flattened like roti prata.

Every year without fail. The Tamil rubber tapers will be so anxious and fearful nothing ever gets done in the estate. The chickens will stop laying eggs and the cows will refuse to come out from their pens to graze. Even the womenfolk will shut the shutters and all the kids will be kept indoors.

Every year without fail. Life in the kampung is turned upside down. Work comes to a complete halt and all the villagers are popping Panadol like candy.

Every year without fail. The villagers will make the long journey to seek out the great hunter. Thereafter, the hunter will go through a long ritual that usually takes a whole day and a bit to step forward and say his piece. During the investigation when all the villagers are sitting quietly beneath the shade of tree – some will recount the tiger is as big as a horse. Others will insist, the man eating tiger is tracking then. Then there will always be some who will insist there is more than one man eating tiger. The accounts vary every year, but on every single occasion everyone is vehement they have seen the man eating tiger.

Every year without fail. After the lengthy interrogation of the villagers comes to a close. The great hunter will venture into the jungle with a couple of stout men with handle bar mustaches armed with shot guns.

Every year without fail just before night closes in. Two shots will rent out in the hour of hesitation. The period when the cows return to their pens and the first tongue of light in the village temple is lighted to signify good triumphing over the forces of darkness.

Every year without fail. After all the villagers are convinced the man eating tiger has been slained by the great hunter. The village Brahmin will ring the temple village bells, offer alms to the deities, bless a sacrificial goat and very relieved villagers will whip up a hot curry dish with lashing of imaginary tiger meat and kampung moonshine called ‘tuak’ to celebrate thru the night.

Every year without fail. Though no one has ever seen the carcass of the dead tiger – it’s not unusual to come across kids holding up a piece of curry meat and boasting. This is the man eating tiger’s heart. That is it’s liver and so on and so forth.

Every year without fail kampung tradition demands that I go thru this convoluted ritual and every single year without fail it begins and ends exactly like the last year. And finally every year without fail, despite all the claims of man eating tigers prowling restlessly in search of human flesh – there is never any sign of such a mythical beast….it seems to only exist somewhere in that vast frightening geography of the human mind.

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‘When I first watched Ang Lee’s movie – the life of Pi. I never had any reason to doubt the recount of the Indian boy’s ordeal at sea with a tiger called Richard Parker.

That’s really how it is when a story is narrated in the medium of film. It’s linear with very little room for improvisation. So there is no reason to question beyond what’s actually presented.

It was only in the last segment of the movie when two Japanese insurers interviewed Pi and expressed disbelief that there was actually a tiger onboard – that was when It occurred to me… maybe I was watching a depiction of what was played out in Pi’s mind during his 227 days ordeal….could it be the tiger was actually a figment of the boy’s imagination.

There was no Richard Parker on board was there?

In truth it’s impossible to answer definitively whether Pi actually spent 227 days with a tiger. The real question is – which story do you prefer? Interpretation may well be subjective but the question is intended to serve as a moment of reflection on what we consider real or make belief.

Don’t sweat it. This is not a Mensa test. They are no right or wrong answers – just perhaps an opportunity to find out more about yourself. The key word here is ‘yourself’ as in this very special narrative, you the spectator have the prerogative to wordsmith the final narrative….that to me is one of the most interesting dimensions of this movie – consider the philosophical question: do we all have the ability to summon a primal force within us? Are we really civilized when pushed to one corner where our mortality is imperiled?

To be quite honest. I don’t believe most viewers or readers ever experienced such depths of cognitive dissonance while watching this movie. Why should they. To some extent this attitude stems from our prejudice that the movie context can at best only supply a very kitsch version of spirituality when compared to the sobriety of books. Besides the perceptive shift was executed in such a subtle manner that there were virtually no cues to prompt us to question whether the man eating really existed at all.

And that I suspect may well be the reason that accounts for the persistence of the metaphor of the invisible man eating tiger along with how it is able to root itself so strongly into the folds of human psyche.

As when we reflect on the many challenges in our own lives – some of them like the imaginary have the malevolent power to maul and in certain cases even chew us up like candy…..hence thru our many layered unexplained fears, trepidation and anxieties concerning our jobs, health, ability to craft a better tomorrow for ourselves or even whether it would all end happily….with the sheer power of fear, we conjure…the terror of the man eating tiger.

I guess what I am trying to convey here is – reality is not written in stone. There is plenty of room for improvisation : reality is after all is simply interpretation. In a sense we co-create our reality. And we do that all the time, every day. One day we wake up and we’re in a great mood, the city we live in is a beautiful place filled with wondrous sights and sounds. The next day it’s an ugly city. Then there are days when it’s just shades of grey between beautiful and ugly. And of course there might also be days when a man eating tiger prowls the city. Though we may be shackled to the facts of life, but there is certainly an element of freedom in how we interpret those facts.

That I imagine is why everyone has a man eating tiger prowling in some darkened corner of their heads….waiting and watching with hungry eyes.

Perhaps one day, when and if we ever get the opportunity to met…..perhaps you will tell me the story of your own invisible man eating tiger.

Or maybe you have not given the matter much thought at all?

You really must! I insist. After all, I am the great hunter who regularly shoots invisible man eating tigers.’

I bet you all don’t know what a banger is….no. It’s not that other banger. I am referring to the banger that one uses to form a sharp crease line on trousers.

Linen pants

January 6, 2017

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Linen pants generally don’t ever exist in the formal wear wardrobe of city men – that’s because it got a bad rep as a super casual poolside and lounging weekend material. But to cloistered community of planters. Linen will always be King. No planter worth his salt will ever be seen dead in cotton, wool mix or for that matter even any other high end material…..only linen will do.

I suspect that’s because every planter knows intimately how tremendously finicky it is to grow, harvest and twill flax fibers into linen – the best linen in grown between the tiny sliver of land between the South of France and Amsterdam – the planting cycle is short, 100 days from March to July covering an area no more than 800 hectares. Hence good linen, especially Provenance linen is pricey.

There is also a functional dimension of linen that appeals to planters. Linen is 30 per cent stronger than cotton, its chief advantage is its particularly well suited for the hot tropics as it wicks sweat, breathes and due to the open weave, it’s very airy.

On the aesthetics – while a new cotton pants will feel smoother and silkier to the touch, linen really only starts coming into its own after about three to five years of wear – don’t expect your new linen pants to look perfect when they’re new. Usually they tend to be dull and quite scratchy.

However with regular wear and wash cycles – linen will be softer and shinier and look better, whereas cotton does the opposite. Flax fibres don’t stretch a great deal – so great care is needed in the fitting and cutting.

Linen is exceptionally durable and even resistant to damage from abrasion, which generally speaking is a good thing when one is romping around in the field.

The other difference between cotton and linen is the latter seldom ever holds it’s shape for more than a few hours – to wear linen is to embrace the beauty of crumpleness…roughness…impermanence even – that may well be why linen pants don’t ever feature in corporate settings. But it’s shabby wabi sabi feel is certainly a very attractive trait that only planters seem to appreciate.

The only downside about linen is my dogs like to bury their noses into my crotch – I wonder why? What do they see with their noses, could it be they can conjure up distant images of bright sunlit morns in July or maybe Robbins dipping their wings as they swoop low along the fields of bronzed flak plants….it’s so sad to me, it’s a different species lah!

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‘The essence of Wabi-sabi can be boiled down to a few philosophies – the first is passing thru this planet as delicately as possible like perhaps how the wind flits ever so gently across the hills and valleys – it is to be the opposite of loud, brash and full frontal.

It doesn’t happen all at once. Just like linen acquiring a sheen only after years of wear….it all takes time to come along….to be real that is. To not try too hard to be perfect, too well kept and above all cultivating the wisdom to appreciate the beauty of all manner of things.

In other words, the wabi in the sabi tells us to stop our mad fixation with staying young forever, success, wealth, status, prestige, power and ceaseless consumption and instead enjoy life as it really is.

Wabi-sabi acknowledges that just as it is important to know when to make choices, it is also important to know when not to make choices: to let things simply be. As even at the most austere level of existence. When we don’t interfere too much with things such as the environment – that can only produce beautiful living.

The Sabi in the Wabi speaks about the delicate balance between the pleasure we get from things and the pleasure we get when we give things and people the permission to simply be real and not kitsch.

As to be real, it is to be like linen – as not only does linen have the courtesy to crumple after a few hours of wear and at times even appear slightly shabby. But it is precisely this irregularity as opposed to symmetry…this almost delicate imbalance between impermanence and timelessness that makes linen so beautiful.

In reality nothing in the universe is completely perfect or completely still; it is only in the minds of men that such fakery exist. Because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except maybe to people who don’t care very much for linen.’

Living a simple life

January 5, 2017

Someone asked me recently why don’t you ever come out at night and drink with us? After all how much fun is it to be alone all the time?

I told this person…that’s the best part of staying in when the sun goes down.

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When one seems to know everyone except who one really is – then one can only be shaky all the time. Shaky people will grab on to virtually anything to steady themselves. If they speak to others who they feel has a pleasant and educated accent – then they will go back and watch a lot of American sitcoms on Youtube and soon they too will have a DIY foreign accent. No need to even study abroad. Automatic, they will make it up as they go along. Twanging away like a broken harmonica some more.

If they mix with others with fashionable hairstyles all the time. They too will end up watching Korean drama’s like descendants of the sun and soon they too will be sporting the latest super high maintenance hair fashions along with looking in the mirror one million times a day.

And when shaky people see others with new and shiny cars. They too will end up buying a new car even if that is the last thing they can afford and even if they have to borrow money from their mom and dad to fill the tank and even even even if they have to get by with 3 minute maggi noodles to pay off their monthly installments.

Shaky people will always do all these things – as they all have a deep yearning to fill a void deep within them.

Sometimes it so very painful for me to come across shaky people.

And when a man is shaky it is very difficult for him to remained focus on anything long enough to see it to it’s logical end – everything that he starts will run out of petrol mid way – it will be abandoned on the first sign of trouble – as his attention span is as short as a house fly – as since his mind is always restless. It is always looking outwards to fill the void deep within him.

There is nothing inside….hence the search for fulfillment.

All this shakiness can only lead to unnecessary suffering and cancer of the wallet.

As for the man who knows himself – nothing can shake him. It is not possible. He’s rock steady like a mountain. I call this category of men the assassin creed. As these are very focussed individuals who can do many many things in this world.

Because they see the world very clearly without the slightest aberration of illusions.

In business one would do well to be mindful of such men – as they can pretend for years to be still like a lifeless rock only to suddenly spring to life and strike mercilessly like a cobra.

Research and study this well.

People who know me well will probably tell you I am an awfully odd sort of person. Perhaps even bordering on the incredibly simple Simon stupid.

As firstly, I am not a very big fan of banks. Not enough at least to ever consider paying interest on a loan.

My policy is very simple.

If I don’t have the money. I don’t buy it. Not even if I need it now. I will save up for it. Don’t even care whether it goes up during the in between period.

Don’t like credit cards either. Never ever use it. Not even if I don’t have any other choice.

I reckon I am quite a simple sort of fellow – maybe an old economy sort of chap who others will probably have very little difficulty believing still lives in the age of flying boats, Imperial leather, paraffin lamps, mosquito nets, linen shirts and everything that is from a bygone age.

To some measure of degree this attitude is very much the preserve of the planter’s worldview – a way of life that has hardly changed at all. As if it’s not beholden to anything that is remotely embedded with a microchip or even requires batteries for it to hum happily to life.

It’s a very old way of seeing the world that I am always acutely conscious of whenever I find myself feeling lost as I so often do in cityscape.

So much so whenever I find myself in the company of people whose only preoccupation seems to be showing off how rich they are to people who hardly know or care – I can’t help but feel they’re poorer than beggars…..as since the banks literally own the next twenty five of their lives or the next five years when it comes to their spanking cars….it’s hard if not impossible to believe these erudite lot can actually be better off that a beggar holding out his desperate coconut half before the charity of the world.

At least the beggar owes no one a cent….the same cannot be said for a single one of these city folk….they’re up to their necks in debt.

The world I reckon has gone stark raving mad! Especially when the debt ridden believe whole heartedly…they’re well off.

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‘If you really take the trouble to observe people around you very carefully. You will notice. Most do what others do only because they believe if so many people seem to be doing that thing. Then it has to be the right thing to do.

Others buy a house on a thirty year loan. They do the same. Others listen to some peculiar chap on TV saying, buying a house is the best investment they will ever make in life. They do the same. That sort of bovine attitude towards life unfortunately also guarantees should others decide to do and U turn and drive in the opposite direction of the traffic at 120 kmh – they are likely to do the same as well.

I think if there is one compelling reason why it’s absolutely necessary for one to step outside the so called wisdom of the crowd – it’s simply because there is no such thing as the wisdom of the crowd…..only perhaps the perpetual stupidity and gullibility of the crowd. If anything there is only the man who is separated from the world and thinks deeply about things.’

Q: What do you think is the most significant change that Trump will institute that is likely to affect Singapore and her relationship with the rest of the world?

A: I don’t know whether it is Trump per se who is responsible for changing the status quo – the reason why I say this is because Mr Trump if you think long and hard about it has changed nothing whatsoever simply because he is yet to assume the office of President – having said that the US and the world has certainly embarked on change in earnest. In the UK you already have Brexit. The same trend seems to be reflected in lesser degrees in both Italy, France and to some extent many of the Nordic countries.

But the question is what exactly has been changed – very often we hear politicians lamenting there are worrisome trends of nativitism and isolationism, but what are they really saying?

And to understand what has really changed – I think it’s important to go right back into history to 1979 when the neo liberals in America hatched Pax Americana in the form of Reaganomics by successfully selling to the rest of the world – their conception of the super duper wealth creating machine that seem to last forever.

Now if you ask me in precise terms what is currently going thru a revisionism – then I will say that particular aspect of the market economy is going thru historical change. That is to say many people no longer believe it is the purveyor of the good life. It may benefit some people, but most fall short. As a consequence many countries are rejecting it because their population are all giving it the thumbs down en masse – but to ascribe all this impetus for change to Trump is very misleading. As the process predates even Trump. So far Trump has not even passed a single directive thru either congress or the senate so how can you say he has changed anything. If anything he just rode on this wave of negative sentiment.

Q: But how will all this relate to Singapore?

A: I think the TPP will be hit as consequence. As it’s always seen as an extension of the neo liberal formulae to grow the wealth of a nation.

Q: Do you think the TPP is well and truly dead under Trump?

A: No. I think it’s just delayed. Eventually it will be tabled for ratification in congress – albeit with cosmetic changes that suggest it could be anything other than the TPP.

Q: You mean to say change occured even before Trump stepped into the picture?

A: Yes. Brexit in my opinion is simply a watershed – but the pressure has been building up for years. As many people all round the world have been steadily marginalized by globalization – you have to understand since 2007 – wages have been steadily declining if not remaining the same while the cost of living has been ratcheting up. So if you take the case of the US – you don’t have a middle class any longer – not one at least that is significant enough to buttress the mass discontentment that has been underscored by Trump.

And one reason is because so much of how corporate America grows it’s wealth requires the emasculation of the American middle class – they keep cannibalising the middle class to feed this wonder machine and it’s abit like Phileas Fog last run for the tape when he strips every last timber on the boat to feed the furnace just to reach Portsmouth.

And since that formulae of wealth creation only benefits a select class of elites at the very top of the food chain – and since it’s essentially an economic theory that requires the systematic destruction of the idea of dignity of labor by destroying the unions – we are simply witnessing a backlash from the disullioned masses.

Q: But can Trump make good on his promises? Can he remake America into a great nation again?

A: When you ask whether he can remake America into a great nation again. What you’re actually asking in a round about way is American influence in the world increasing or declining?

Truth is the US sphere of influence has been steadily declining in virtually every single hemisphere in the last fifteen years. Including it’s own backyard – Obama recently reversed it’s position on Cuba – but what many people remain unaware of is this change in policy has more to do with the rest of South America going it’s own way. As it no longer shares the US position of boycotting Cuba any longer. The same holds true for the Middle East as well – The US has hammered out detente with Iran, but the main reason why that’s has more to do with US limits regionally. Hence it’s a form of capitulation rather than what the US would have liked to do, specifically to balance the power of Shiites against the growing insurgencies that is led predominantly by the Sunni’s in the form of Hezbollah in Beirut to the West Bank and also to placate the Kurds and Iraqi’s – so these to me are signs of an empire that reached a point where it can no longer reliably exert command and control any longer.

One sees the same sad story being played out nearer home with regards to the disputed SCS – Singapore the reliable proxy of the US shouts out to the rest of ASEAN, charge! And when she looks back, no one seems to be following. They all seem to be pretending they didn’t hear the order to charge against China. So that to me is a pithy summary of where the US actually is these days.

Q: How much is Singapore’s destiny linked to US global influence?

A: Singapore is a reliable proxy of the US, so if the US is a dog, Singapore is like a tick lah. That means if the dog is happy so is the tick. If the dog dies – Singapore also die lah.

Q: You have always been highly critical of global free trade specifically in the form of globalization – can you see Trump reversing many of the corrosive aspects of globalization?

A: I am not against free trade. I would appreciate it if you don’t put words in my mouth. I regret to inform you that I am not only aware of the methods of the guild, but I even wrote their book. On record. I am and have always been a red blooded capitalist.

But what I am against is the systematic evisceration of whole communities in the name of the profit motive. This is where I feel free trade has nothing whatsoever to do with free trade – it’s a bloody oxymoron. I don’t necessary ascribe the blame to firms either – because the rule book was thrown summarily at them in dicta – as per, join us or perish, so they are simply reacting to the economic forces. If I blame anyone it is perhaps the intelligentsia in the US who were responsible for promulgating this corrosive economic theory that is called free trade and has nothing whatsoever to do with free trade.

Nowadays you notice – you don’t hear about Michael Porter, Gary Hamel, Paul Krugman or for that matter even Alan Greenspan – they have all conveniently disappeared. Neither do you hear about the ultra neo liberals in both the Republican and Democratic Party either. Again they are all hiding under a rock – and the reason why you don’t hear anything from them is because when Trump won as he did – it’s really a mother of Oh dear! moments for all these conceited intellectuals.

But my point is this was all foreseeable.

I think if America stands any chance of being great again the burden of proof is not on Trump’s shoulders as much as the community of thinkers who created this mess where the world currently finds itself – they have to first jettison their security blanket denial syndrome and come to terms with the awlful reality – while it’s conceivable there was certainly wealth creation to some degree, many of their economic logic has also created a new under class of very angry and marginalized people thru out the world who once subscribed to American economic theory.

My point is you cannot be the world’s most powerful economist, influential columnist, business guru and when so many people give you the thumbs down – you just dismiss them all as crazies or decide to say “it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with me.” By every known definition, the community of thinkers have some measure of responsibility to prescribe a solution to this problem that the world finds itself in right now.

To me the solution can never emerge from the likes of Trump – all he can do is make promises that he will eventually break and the nett result of that would be unimaginably cataclysmic.

My feel is too many people are still stuck in this timeline – they haven’t really played out the various permutations of what is likely to happen when Trump fails to deliver the great back to Americans.

Q: How urgent do you see a need for the Americans to lead the world out of this crisis where so many people are disillusioned with the present economic policy?

A: In polite terms I would probably describe it as a pressing need. In not so polite terms – if the Americans don’t come out with a solution – then the Chinese will provably step in and do it for them.

Q: Do the Chinese have that latitude of influence and power?

A: I think so. You know recently I read for the first time since the Silk Road – goods are going to be freighted by rail from a China to the UK. This sort of news rarely ever gets much mention – but it’s implications are startling – only because it involves not only physical rail tracks and logistics. But just think of how many countries the train carrying these goods have to go thru – consider the sheer quantity of paperwork that requires harmonization along with agreements between China and those transit countries. I think when you see it from that perspective – it will have far reaching implications on an economy like Singapore that is so dependent on seafaring transportation of goods.

The people who run ports and related services in Singapore will have plenty of sleepless nights.

Q: Trump has signaled on numerous occasions he plans to take a stronger position on China. How will this affect trade?

A: That is a very strange statement. As China is so invested in the US economy – China owns more than $1.24 trillion in bills, notes, and bonds or about 30% of the over $4 trillion in Treasury bills, notes, and bonds held by foreign countries. In total, China owns about 10% of publicly held U.S. debt. I mean with that kind of war chest – I really don’t think Trump has much room to get tough on China. I could be wrong – but in the long run it makes far more sense for the US to engage rather than antagonize China. I don’t see any payouts in the latter strategy, none whatsoever considering how much US debt China is underwriting.

Even if you want to get tough – there has to be logic. I see none here.

Q: Obama mentioned recently Russian hacks into the US has been responsible for Hillary Clinton’s election defeat – he has promised to retaliate – do you see this as affecting Asia in any way?

A: Again this is yet another very strange statement. I don’t know who Obama’s target audience is – but they can’t be very well read or informed folks – as it is a fact, the US has been regularly engaged in this sort of clandestine activities, in many cases it is both well documented and factual. Not only just interfering with elections in other countries, but in many cases they are also involved in covert operations to engineer regime change and modulating governments deploying everything ranging from assassinations to funding an outright coup d’état – so now Obama is saying, he’s the guy wearing the white hat and we all supposed suspend disbelief and somehow regard him as pure as spring snow? Are you kidding me?

It’s so stupid that I don’t wish to comment on his nonsense.

Q: How will the cosy relationship between Putin and Trump affect Asia?

A: It certainly looks cosy. I will give you that. But I don’t know whether it’s really cosy cosy, you know what I mean – I really don’t have enough intel to comment on this question.

Q: What do you see as the biggest and immediate challenge for a newly minted President Trump?

A: You really want to know? I think it’s who will be the First Lady – would it be his current wife or maybe his daughter. They both can’t sit on each other on the same chair otherwise people will think it’s a sicko incest family so one has to bow out.

Q: Seriously, please. May I remind you the guilds would greatly appreciate your candor.

A: I think the price of oil and the current slide of commodity prices would be two aspects of the global economy that will require immediate attention – only because these two dimensions of trade command a disproportionate influence over the growing concerns of jobs and upward mobility. Many countries are in the doldrums because of either one or both being at all time lows – as a result the world economy is starved of liquidity that is why the volume in global trade is slowing down and getting smaller – and since these two factors have a direct impact on liquidity, it will affect everything from consumption patterns to housing prices – its very hard for me to see how global trade can possibly improve unless oil prices are put on some kind of stabilizing regimen that only the US and their allies can accomplish thru OPEC or perhaps the IMF. As for commodity prices that’s a far more tricky issue to sort out – nonetheless it too requires US leadership and vision.

As for domestic politics in the US. That will also be the first on Trump’s to do list. The question for me – is whether Trump is able to hammer out a coherent new deal to convince firms that he has a workable plan – I think getting their buy in is key because he has a lot of plans and not all of them are kooky in my humble opinion – his idea of revivifying manufacturing in America might sound naïve. But it’s actually doable. Maybe not for all categories of industries and goods – but for some, it’s certainly possible to reconstitute them back in the US again without incurring big cost penalties – because what many economist have not factored in is the moral aspects of consumer behavior – for example, I like Persian rugs. But if I know that twelve year old Abdul is chained to loom to work in some badly ventilated basement in Pakistan and paid twenty cents a hour while he goes blind. I don’t want it. Because every time I step on that rug. I am riven by guilt. It’s the same shark fin soup. I like it – but if I am conjuring all sorts of images of baby sharks getting killed. Dowan lah. I stick to Campell soup.

Look here. I am not saying the average American doesn’t step on ants or that they’re perfect – but I do believe very strongly many Americans have suffered first hand from seeing jobs pack up and disappearing like a traveling circus elsewhere – so if I am an American and I want to buy a boot, but I know that doing so is going to put so and so in Ohio out of a job and they probably have to live in a car. I rather pay premium – you know what I am talking about is not an abstraction. Increasingly the mantra the lowest cost wins the day is very gradually losing it’s moral appeal. Most people don’t ever register this subtle shift. As for economist they cannot, as that very idea is anathema to them – but I do.

Besides China is no longer as cost competitive as it used to be. To be perfectly frank I think the Chinese planners are all internally convinced it’s a matter of strategic precondition to migrate ASAP from being just low cost build to blueprint manufacturers to higher value added goods – they can’t do the same thing as Singapore and just rubber stamp FDI’s and hope that the whole world just stays the same. Only to wake up one day and tell their population – hey we are takers. PM of Singapore can do that. But if Xi ever does that. If that ever happens in China – there will be a revolution.

I think they are not only mindful of the cost pressures, but increasingly pollution and the constraints of their demographics will at some point force them to migrate upstream technologically.

You know in certain coastal manufacturing hubs in China – they are actually importing foreign labor from Vietnam to do work that the natives don’t want to do or want to do but they demand higher pay.

My point is don’t think China is like Singapore – it cannot ever be like Singapore.

As China is slowly losing it’s cost competitiveness as a manufacturing hub – maybe not now. But certainly in the foreseeable future and based on historical trek record, the Chinese planners are quite good at identifying industrial sectors where they might stand the highest chance of prospering. They’re not like Philip Yeo who spends billions filling a tank with guppies only for them to remain guppies forever only to disappear into a cupboard never to be seen again – conversely I happen to have a lot of respect for the Chinese equivalent of the EDB. As they are a very very serious outfit. rail is an excellent example. Not only have they been able to acquire core competence in this field within a relatively short time. But they have also been able to leverage on economies of scale to good effect to give the Japs a run for their money – all this technological shifts would I imagine transform China not just as a money bag man. But into a nation that is able to synthesize new products for the world.

The outcome may well be a perversion of sorts – where we might actually see the US and China collaborating closely to be the supermarket to the brave new world.

You never know. We live in very interesting times it seems.

Q: You mentioned earlier Trump can only promise, but he will not be able to deliver. Now let us assume he has the power to deliver. What would he need to do to make America great again?

A: When and why was America great? A simple question but one that I find few can answer satisfactorily – now if you ask me was America great because it used to make cars and a lot of things that consumers will buy. I say probably. But that was not the reason why America was great – that is the fruits of being great.

If you look at America, it really only became great after WW2. From 1950 to 1979 – that was the period when American industrial output was at it highest. That was also the period when patent per capita was at it’s most prolific. That was also when new enterprises were most vigorous. But where did it all come from?

The middle class.

In this period I mentioned the middle class was at it’s peak. After 1980 when Reagan took office – the middle class started to regress and has since slowly and steadily disappeared in the US.

The middle class is like organic matter in the field. Every country needs it to grow. Look at Africa. Why is it riven in perpetual debt, poverty and borderline starvation despite years and years of aid? Because it doesn’t have a middle class.

Both Indonesia and India languished in the economic wilderness for years. Why? Again they didn’t have a middle class. And when you ask how so many Americans can vote for Trump. Again it is because there is no middle class to speak of in America any longer.

The middle class is the happy zone – that is why China wants to grow it. As that is where entrepreneurs traditionally emerge from. That is also where upward mobility and risk taking is at it’s most vigorous as they very hopeful.

The short answer is Trump needs to reclaim the territory that the middle class has lost in America – the problem is that’s easier said than done.

Planned Replanting

January 3, 2017

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The land I imagine will always be a she and never a he. To the man who knows her well it seems righter than right to regard her in such a way – like all women, she is vain and wants only to be seen only under her own terms – she is always trying to show off her best features and hide her less desirable side…..that is quite normal….and a gentlemen would do well to look the other way or pretend too.

But shyness can at times be problematic for a farmer – I need to know what her weak points are….so after the deluge we have been having for the past few days I trekked down early this morning to check her out.

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From the looks of it – the drainage needs some minor landscaping to prevent brackish water from pooling.

This land is scheduled for replanting some time in May / June….if the weather behaves. If the weather is nutty, I have to play by ear. I need to raise the water table and dig trenches all the way to the Northern edge.

I don’t see anything major here – will go down tomorrow early in the morning to check how it’s coping with the next round of rains – seems to look OK.

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‘One reliable way to die very fast in the kampung is to go around and point out the less desirable aspects of a farmer’s land – one can die very quickly and reliably that way.

As it’s not unusual for a farmer to have very deep spirited and passionate connection with the mistress….the land.

Take my first plot of land for instance. She’s the sort of girl where one will probably describe her in polite terms as, having a clear and beautiful complexion – which really is just code for very forgettable lah. As nothing else is happening in those other areas that usually pique the interest of men along with their other unmentionable body parts.

There is plenty not happening with her lah, even with batteries included, so much so, after ten negative points, one may even proceed to compile another twenty points and thereafter another and yet another. As not only is she pear shaped, but her rear end is as big a bus – she’s prone to flooding in the rainy season and to the front, she simply too steep that makes her a flat chested airport case, hardly the sort of girl that is likely to set a man’s heart on fire.

But give ANY land a good and fair run – and in all likelihood – one will eventually fall in love with her. As the relationship between man and land goes back a very very long way….it is an ancient union that modern man sadly has forgotten….how close a man’s soul is tied to the bosom of the land.

When one works on the land – she is will slowly dial up her charm. She will whisper to the farmer, I will make your heart ache for me when we are separated. As I will love you so much that you will see my beauty in every blade of grass – so much so when we are separated by even the briefest moments you will be able to taste our separation like blood on your lips.

Yes the land can do this and much more to a man….any man.

Even if in the very beginning – all that one can see is a dumpty one metric tonne internal beauty with a flower stuck behind her ear….but as time goes by, one can only fall in love with her.

Even if others may be callous and cruel in their depiction of her – the farmer will come to say….look at me! Do not listen to them. You are very beautiful and I love you with all my heart….do not complicate your already complicated life…that is all that matters. I do not care very much for what others may think and say….they can all go and die lah!

Whenever the land for reason known only to herself and no one else doesn’t produce or chooses to be difficult – and that is bound to happen from time to time. Even then the farmer will never curse her. Instead he will always make excuses for her when she throws a tantrum and such is his love for her – he will only choose to see her good side and remember the good times. He will say to himself – She can’t help it…the moon affects her. She is beholden to the winds and rains…what to do?

The moral of the story is it’s not important how a woman looks outwardly. What’s important for a man is to have the patience to discover the beauty of a woman’s heart.

All other things in this world will never last….they are just eye cnady – they will come and they will also go with the chastening passage of time and there is no end to this merry go round philosophy. As in the world there will always be something or someone better than what one already has..appearance wise at least – only the capacity of man to fashion true beauty from his mind can endure for eternity.

It takes a certain intelligence, patience and consistency for a man to know how to seek out beauty in seeming ordinariness.’

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‘The Lookout’

January 1, 2017

Man’s elemental state is to be alone. One day when we all look back on our lives and see the road we have all travelled, in spite of those who came in and out of lives, we were alone the whole way. I don’t mean to say we weren’t surrounded by people – but essentially, we were all lone travelers more or less.

Many things can be said about being alone – for one it’s not the same as loneliness. To be part of this truism – one has to first cultivate a deep spirited self-respect for oneself – as really I don’t see how you can respect yourself if you’re always having to look like a child in the hearts and minds of others to feel complete and whole.

That is the first lesson being alone imparts to all….respect for the most important person the needs it most…yourself.

It all starts from there. Something cannot come out from nothing.

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