I will give this a go!

August 31, 2022

It has some interesting aspects about what a curry should be….its worthwhile to just give it a go and see how it turns out.

Jazz Kissa

August 31, 2022

Japan is one of those really interesting countries where East and West meets only for the latter to go thru such a radical transformation that there’s nothing Western about it and its all really intrinsically Japanese…the Jazz Kissa story has always fascinated me, partly because it is a niche hobbyist movement which I am a part of. One day when I go back to Singapore for good. I will run a Jazz Kissa in some deserted mall that only serves watered down stale beer and 3 day old coffee…but thats beside the point really….as the Jazz will be good!


The Futurist

August 31, 2022

I have never seen myself as someone who could predict the future, till the moment you asked me that question just a while ago. I guess it started thirty something years ago when I would make odd predictions in mostly chat forums in the IRC era. Back then they were known as threads and vast majority of my audience were university kids, mainly geeks or folk who found their identity online. So when I got it right most of the time, the moniker of the futurist stuck. The funny thing about life is that it’s so long that it’s hard to predict what will happen to one owns life….. as for the kids, they graduated, got married, joined the workforce, started their businesses and some became quite big. So big that they would often fly in and ask me questions like will the Russians invade the Ukraine. I guess if youre just a cookie cutter the answer would hardly matter, but if you have billions invested in Russia and the Caucasus that sort of information can really be life or death….. I think my autism allows me to see things that most don’t. Because when one is autistic, one is always looking in from the outside. There’s an outlier quality about it all and that means one can detach from the emotioal and sentimental to just focus on the calculations. I don’t say that with much pride because there are some things I rather not see or know about. Infact I actually envy those who don’t seem too interested in the future and much prefer to devote all of themselves to the present. BC being able to see the future brings with it alot of sadness and anxiety. But if one has that sort of gift or blessing, it’s best to use it sparingly because I have come to the realization quite late in life most people don’t really want the truth. What they want is actually what they have already long decided to be the truth.

In my assessment the canary in the mine is how bad this coming winter will be. I spend alot of time these days leafing thru weather systems, but I could just as well be peering at chicken entrails. Truth is no one can predict the outcome…… If it is a bitter winter. I don’t think the Europeans will continue to support the Ukrainian War in 2023, not if it has to come at higher heating bills and cutting back on necessaries. Its not just this, there is likely to be a global recession as well and Germany will spiral into recession. But if its a mild winter, then maybe we should talk about the impeding great famine that will hit the world in the second quarter of 2023? Or maybe the Europeans will support the Ukraine war. There are so many moving parts here…….. and I just don’t know. But once winter comes, I think the task of predicting will get significantly easier.

George Yeo’s Musings

August 30, 2022

George Yeo is a great guru on how to live, work and play. I think what I have just shared must come across as slightly odd to most. But if you think abt it. None of our institutions, leaders or for that matter institutional cirriculum teaches one how to live, work and play. They may teach you how to build a bridge or perhaps how to weld steel or even how to half boil an egg, but where does one go to get further knowledge on what I term purpose driven living? I think this is the reason why figures like George Yeo is so very important because so much of his insights touches on the mysteries of life. I will give you an example. He speaks plainly about his brothers illness. By doing so he shares with us that life is not about taking the easy path…. If you think abt it that is true because it requires us to make a commitment and by doing so we get involved at so many levels intellectually, spiritually and emotionally. And by making a commitment only then can we live a purpose driven life. That is to say life is not about bubble wrapping yourself or simplifying it by having the least amount of commitment so that you don’t need to deal with the hassle of others……. George Yeo is saying obliquely that when you choose to get involved with others…. You will be hurt and it will be heart wrenching. But he is also saying that this may well be the only reliable way we grow as human beings. And it is arguably the most economic way to develop the skills to enable us to live a purpose driven life. We don’t grow by pretending to look at our smart phones when we are confronted by an uncomfortable subject like schizophrenia. If you choose to do that, then you must also prepare to accept that you will be nothing more than a bonsai…… My point is at one level of understanding he may say this is all nothing more than musings, but at another level it is also very deep and reflective and profound as well. I think thru the sheer honesty of his sharings to some extent he gives us all the permission to do the same.

This is an extract of a conversation in the steps of the Great Hall in Primus Aldentes Prime.

Soviet Architecture

August 29, 2022

The Iron curtain once hermetically sealed off the Soviet Empire from the West allowing Russia to synthesise her own unique blend of architectural philosophy along with building technology. What I find sad about globalisation is how it had the effect of nuking cultural diversity and reducing everything into coded structures, habits and styles thats to say everyone looks as though they went to the same architect to build their dream house and building. They all seem to wear the same clothes made by the very same designers and factory and everyone seems to eat the same food along think and aspire towards the same greyness…….. A perverse consequence of the Ukraine war is that Russia will once again be decoupled from the West. Maybe this time this will allow the Russians to develop their own version of how to live, work and play again.

The question is WHEN is the best time for either the US or China to start a war? Many believe this to be stupid question, but not me. I believe timing is absolutely jugular in war. For example had Hitler invaded Poland in late 1938 instead of 39, it is conceivable that he would be able to win in Russia. Same with Putin had he invaded Ukraine in 2014 instead of 2022, he would have won a decisive victory. To me the question is do you wait 10 or 15 years to fight a war just because you are not ready and need time to build capabilities. In my view this is not a sensible line of logic because the other side is also taking the opportunity to build capabilities as well……. There will always be an ongoing arm race and if you think about it. You will never build up the ideal capabilities and reserves to fight under ideal conditions……so much so, its conceivable this idea of waiting for the right time to start a war may not exist at all.

The Art of being a Man

August 29, 2022

Life is not about chasing fun and taking shortcuts to the top. If that was all life was about then nature would have designed us to die after 25 years like flies. But WHY is human life so long? So long that we all have no choice but to bear witness to youth bowing out to old age and thru that span of time. A man will make many mistakes, harbor many regrets and probably wished he could step into a time machine and right many things in his life. This is because a mans life is not so different from the long life of the mythical tree of life…… The tree reaches to the heavens, BUT its roots also go deep down to hell – that is to say for a man to gain wisdom and knowledge about the affairs of the world. His roots MUST also go all the way down to hell as well. Just as there can be no heaven without hell. There is no such thing as a weighty man of substance without him ever taken on the heaviest of burdens and suffering….. both are in perfect proportion…. heaven and hell…… they are both in perfect equilibrium……… So beware of men who say they are good. Because what they actually mean to say is since they have never had to stare directly into the hottest place in hell……. They are no different from a toy dog before a flesh eating tiger. Their claim to goodness is proportional to their naivety and ignorance about all that is evil and malevolent in this world. Hence these men are not truly good…..as their goodness is derived from a state of powerlessness, ignorance and simply never ever been in a tight spot. A really good man is the opposite of all this. Remember his roots go all the way down to hell…. Such a man can kill and even destroy with the power of 300 men. He is diabolically intelligent. Yet like a well trained and disciplined guard dog. This man does not use it to serve evil. Instead his powers are used to further goodness for people and planet. Another convenient lie is when a man insist he is loyal and trustworthy. In truth no woman in her right frame of mind desires him. Hence this man’s loyalty is premised on his inability to attract any woman. This is very different from a man who is attractive and can get any woman he wants with a snap of his finger. But instead he chooses to preserve his precious bodily fluids and curbs his primal lust and dedicates himself to only one woman. This is true loyalty. The other is a counterfeit. My point is to illustrate only thru great suffering and by crossing many raging rivers can a man true himself and journey deep into his core … from this we can reason that a whole and complete man is not someone who chooses an easy or for that matter even a fun filled life. Instead it is a life of duty, sacrifice and suffering.

Singapore in the past

August 28, 2022

This is one of the few shots taken by the Hasselblad SWC twenty something years ago. I didnt use the SWC much then. As in the age of chemical film, the 6×4 format was a very expensive medium for hobbyist. But whenever I did use the SWC it was a complicated affair comprising of sturdy tripod, light metering and simply old school speed and aperture calculations and the SWC always delivered in its incomparable color fidelity and zero distortion rendition of buildings and people. The actual photo is razor sharp. This photo doesn’t do it justice. I will try to find the negative.

The power of 3

August 27, 2022

It may have been slow in the coming, but at least its a start…….

Sailor Jerry

August 26, 2022

The secret fears of men

August 26, 2022

Every man harbors 2 secret fears. These are not run of the mill fears, like the fear of spiders. Rather they are non mainstream fears that really only exist in the periphery of every man’s subconscious. That is to say. At one level of intelligence – man is both aware and also ignorant of the existence of these ancient fears.

The first is the fear of being needed and the second fear is the fear of not being needed at all.

In the first reading these two fears may appear contradictory and in some way resemble the delimma of the mythical tiger who has managed to escape the confines of his cage. But as one reflects on these twin heads of fears there is actually a third fear and that is the mental space that exist between the yearning to be needed and the fear of not being needed. This if you must know is the very reason why caged animals and even sometimes a criminal will do everything in its and his power to seek freedom only to inexplicably return voluntary back to being a caged animal. The psychology of this mental gap or space that exist between these contradictory fears to the best of my knowledge is not documented or even registered in any shape or form by even the most accomplished psychologist. I happen to know of the existence of this mental space that I shall now term – the transit zone. I will not share with you HOW or even WHY or what circumstances led me to gather intimate knowledge concerning the transit zone

It goes like this. The caged tiger can think of nothing except boundless freedom when it is pacing non stop in its cage. Infact the idea of freedom acquires the quality of the supernatural providing freedom is denied. But once the tiger is loose, it will run wild and for a while it may even revel in this new found freedom. Only to eventually realise there is something missing from the seeming paradise of freedom. In the beginning the tiger can’t really pin down what’s missing, but the feeling of something amiss festers and slowly grows septic. This distraughts the tiger no end and soon he finds himself missing his cage. Only to return to his captors that will cage him up. The reason why the tiger returns is because without realising it, it has inadvertently become a resident of the transit zone, where he begins to realize that there is third zone between the cage and boundless freedom and that is his imagination of freedom and how valuable it is. Although the tiger is only a beast with rudimentary intellect, it is not devoid of the powers of discernment – the tiger realises when it was caged, his mind was able to travel and with this mental freedom, it was able to conjure endless varieties of heavenly imagined things about the paradise of freedom, but when he was free, the tiger realised his object of desire – freedom was nothing more than an illusion… as reality can never compete with the imagined and what really the tiger really desires is the idea of freedom that has nothing to do with being freed that can only conjured when it is confined in its cage…..this is why a man who once wished for freedom suddenly and inexplicably yearns to return to prison like the tiger he knows that providing his freedom is denied, then the idea of freedom itself can only acquire the power of the mystical.

Jungle Book of Wisdom

August 26, 2022

Yes….. You could easily take a man out of the jungle. But its quite another thing to take the jungle out of that man. Even if you could….you would do well to consider whether it would all end well. Maybe it’s like one of those really complicated operations where some ancient shrapnel is embedded between the bone in the spine and a nerve. Maybe it best to leave it be. You see some men simply have too much wildness in them. You can see it in the way they look longingly at birds. It’s like some desperate shout that emerges in some deep foreboding place in their soul. Such men I believe were unfortunate to be born in this timeline. They should have ideally be born when men were still wondering whether the earth was flat like a pizza or during some epic war when droves of them were cut down like grass by machine gun fire. That way at least these tortured souls could seek some refuge that comes from the redemptive power of giving up one’s life up in the name of some virtuous cause. Even if it should all be fake. It would hardly matter. As we are not talking about the absolution of the truth as much as the crumbly nature of the truth and how it can always be shaped to serve whatever cause………what you must understand is we all live in a self selecting lie. We may believe that existence stands for the truth. But even that as seamless and immaculate as it is… a version of the truth, is really just a prosthetic of the truth.

The real truth is that we don’t really know what life is all about. We all just do a decent job of pretending to know.

Food Diplomacy

August 26, 2022

The idea of one country weaponizing food to influence another country is not new. It is an ancient strategy. But what gives this idea added poignancy this time round is- never before in human history has geographical, political, mercantile along with topological conditions favored only one country to do this under its own selfish terms. The US is likely emerge as the first global food superpower and it is likely to use this as a crowbar to win over or arm twist other countries in ways that has never been seen before. At the present, the dumbest folk such as myself typically go into commercial farming. But in the looming epoch of food insecurity and possibly perennial famine farming will be redefined. After the first global famine that will occur around mid 2023. The smart money will move into agriculture. Following closely will be the brains. For the very first time in human history, there will be a role reversal where the brightest will move into farming. When that happens yields will explode and due to the high price of food it may even be possible to augment farming with robots. Now when farming becomes automated yields are likely to go up 3 to possibly 4 times.

When diplomats, politicians, journalist and food security experts say that the price of food is going to go up and up like a rocket. They don’t really shed light on the subject. Let me explain the technical aspect of the WHY’s. The crux is not scarcity of arable land or for that matter even lack of opportunity cost or even climate shock. Yes all these factors do certainly play a part in food shortfalls, but to lump them all under the umbrella term cost misleads and fails to acknowledge scale.

Let me start from the basics, to grow anything commercially (matters not what it really is), 3 main components of fertilizers are inescapable. They are nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. All fertilizers in all their multitude of variations and forms are derived from these three periodic components.

Let us break down the first of these three, nitrogen. To manufacture nitrogen fertiliser, you absolutely need Russian gas simply because the process is energy extensive. It begins by mixing nitrogen from the air with hydrogen from natural gas at high temperature and pressure to create ammonia. The ammonia is used to make nitric acid, with which it is then mixed to produce nitrate fertilizers such as ammonium nitrate or it can be mixed with liquid carbon dioxide to create urea. You can do this with Saudi gas, but the cost will be at least six times more. The only country that can circumvent the complication of the gas hubris is the US and Canada. As a biproduct of shale oil is cheap gas. The rest of the countries are screwed. This includes China, EU and in the screwed list.

The second is phosphates. This has nothing to do with gas, but since only a few regions in the world have reserves of phosphates. If these countries encounter supply chain issues, they can disrupt supply. Both Russia and Ukraine supply 30% of the global demand for phosphates. One reason why phosphate supply is likely to run out is because most producers of this vital raw material have imposed a no export moratorium to ensure either price stability for the local market or because they foresee supply disruptions and have decided to stockpile.

The third and arguably the most important fertilizers component is potassium that really only exist in Belarus, Russia, Canada and Egypt (low grade, but still usable). Canadian and US growers guaranteed a steady supply, but the rest of the growers outside this geo sphere are likely to be screwed BC both Belarusian and Russian potash supplies have been so seriously affected by the war in Ukraine that normal trade conditions r unlikely to stabilise soon.

The primary reason why most sourcers and stockist and consumers remain unaware of the looming food crisis is BC at the present moment most of us are chowing on last year’s AGRI produce. But as fertilizer cost continue to go up and up, farmers all round the world will either switch to less fertilizer intensive crop or broadcast less of it. Either way global yield for 2022 is likely to be severely affected.

3 countries will emerge as exceptionally stable cereal crop producers thru out 2022 and beyond. The US, Canada and Australia (due to their special arrangement with the US). The remainder of the countries will see serious degradation in their AGRI outputs.

Many years ago when I lived in Singapore. I used to ride my bike or walk for hours on end. I prefer the night. I knew every connector. I even knew the ones that weren’t supposed to exist. Back then on some of my best walks I would suddenly end up in a place that I could not recognize and revel in the salutory joy of getting lost and not knowing where I was. I have returned after many years. But this time round there are simply too many changes. I don’t recognize where I am most of the time. At times, I can pick out some remnant of the past and I just stop and peer at it, but it’s just a faint watermark as most of it is gone and after that I feel silly. As if the past is conspiring to make me feeble. I am accustomed to wearing my heavy field boots. The pavement is just too even and smooth and I even find myself having to put a big bag of coins into my right pocket so that I can feel the comfort of an imaginary heavy parang I am accustomed to carrying in the field. At times I look back expecting my trusted Doberman body guard to come around. Then I remember, he is not with me….. on top of all this. I really miss my friends the birds and trees. Maybe its not Singapore that has changed. Maybe the change is deep inside me……I realise this sounds defeatist, but I dont fit in any longer……its no fun being lost all the time, not knowing where you are or even where you should belong. Or maybe I should just keep walking till I reach some place that’s familiar.

China has always been fortunate because it could learn what not to do from just watching the many things that went wrong with Russia. For instance, when the USSR democratised overnight just after the Berlin Wall cam tumbling down, what the Chinese planners realised was how the Soviet empire fragmented and balkanised instead of holding together. I think without a shadow of doubt that had a big impact on shaping Chinese statecraft planning when it came to market reform in the autonomous regions. Similarly when Russia invaded Ukraine. China was once again able to peer into this magic or what we term phantom mirror and extrapolate many useful lessons. The disproportional impact of market sanctions by the Western powers, the covert undermining of the value of the ruble and most importantly the clandestine intelligence umbilical cord that the US and NATO offered to the Ukrainians are all important lessons to the Chinese. I think for the Chinese planners when they scale how destructive these sanctions are the sense of fear has to be palpable simply because just like Russia so much of the domestic Chinese economy is still reliant on Western technological inputs. So when they see the Russian national carrier Aeroflot facing aircraft componentry shortages to a point where most of their Boengs and Airbus are grounded indefinitely…that has to be some what scary. When the Chinese see the Gazprom facing similar tech boycotts from Halliburton suddenly pulling out from Russia. Or Sernbank unable to transact any of their financial instruments even the simplest because they have been excluded from Swift….again of these have to be scary to the Chinese.

My point in recounting all this is to simply illustrate how vulnerable and fragile the Chinese are psychologically. I think this observation is necessary simply because there is so much jingoism whenever we discuss the US and China divide. My second point is this mindset makes the Chinese dangerous. Because when they are fearful. They will strike first. History has been very robust on this observation – the Japanese in 1941 did not attack Pearl Harbor from a position of geo economic strenght as much as desperation that was brought about by the US embargo on selling oil to Japan. What I am trying to illustrate poignantly here is that fear is no good, first it doesn’t solicit peace. Secondly more often than not, it leads to irrationality.

This is an excerpt of a conversation from the man called Darkness captured very recently in the Temple of Reason

The Laanstrad do not know their left foot from their right! Please you all have permission to not only quote me, but to broadcast this even thru our the hemispheres of the strangelands. Understand this! I have been removed from the jungles to come here for really only the mundane it seems – the Germans cannot possibly sustain this intercine war of attrition against the Russians. There is a very simple reason why – they need cheap Russian gas to deliver the GDP. That’s the bottom line Gentlemen, without cheap Russian gas it simply doesn’t come around and there are no alternatives or fall back plan. This is a zero error straight line calculation that the Laanstrad seems unable to perform. So what are these space Brahmins alluding us too? Might they be telling us Chapati is made out of sunflower petals or somewhere in the Merlion vommiting water there is Atlantis? No. Let us come back to ground zero. As the next alternative that the Germans are proposing is 6.5 times higher than what the Russians are offering, so what the US and the rest of the EU is de facto asking of Germany is to commit economic and industrial suicide….I don’t think this will happen Gentlemen and we would do well to despatch our emissaries along with third stage guild navigators to communicate this ‘new reality’ to the abtilung.

My feel Gentlemen is that the Laanstrad has outlived its remit and we should from today only deal with Abtilung. As they seem congruent and amenable to our line of logic on this issue of managing our German partners.

This is a transcript of an excerpt conversation that has been docummented two hours ago in a real life projection meeting between the Laanstrad and the Guilds Confederation in Chomp Chomp in Serangoon Gardens, Singapore 2022


August 24, 2022

Hasselblad SWC/M with CT Biogon 38mm f/4.5 T* lens