Did You Miss Out On This Essay? Check It Out The Joy of Stupid People March 8, 2009

 

 

2005-09-09_hello_world_preview_news14. “One day we just woke up to it Neo…no one really knows how the machines assumed total control….not even the oracle…” – Morpheus, the Matrix.

That in a nutshell is how all of us found ourselves suddenly living in the Matrix. But where it all acquires a sense of foreboding is most of us remain terminally ambivalent to the whole idea of compromised existence very much in the way battery chickens never dream about roaming free in green fields – life these days is redolent with countless examples of compromised living – from work till the day you die; compete till your sinews snap to the ceaseless competition; to the whole idea of perpetuating the belief this may yet be the land of the fee rather than free.

But did any of us ever once press the pause button and consider whether this is how life was meant to be?

Tragic realism suggest most of us hardly ever think about this whole idea of limited life; truth may even bear out even if we did manage to go beyond life in the matrix; all we would probably do is pine to return to the familiarity of our cages; in the way hardened criminals deliberately commit crimes so that they can be reunited with the cold comfort of their 6 by 10 prison cells – that’s usually what happens when one gets emasculated after years of institutional dumbing down by the apparatus of assimilation.

Life in the matrix has to be closely related to the craft of perfumery – a little goes a very long way. All it requires is the hint of authenticity – the rest we can just as well make up as we go along – matters little whether it is perpetuating the whole idea of the 1st division dream team or propping up the myth – only a handful of elites has managed to make the world a better place. Along with  preserving the decrepit recognition progress always comes at a cost; and its always good value for money; what did you really expect? Didn’t you know nothing last forever! And just in case you didn’t know – if the good in this miserable world triumphs over evil – then its always by the skin of our teeth and the only way to prosecute on this good life is by sacrificing freedom of speech, liberty and choice at the altar of necessity.

That’s how many of us have come to settle for less. But what happens when the cogent is replaced by doggy bite sized generalizations? What happens when all newspapers can do is exacerbate the already acute sense of estrangement in thinking folk sharpening their pain further? The problem with the whole idea of selling less for more is it shows up in the practice it inspires – a politics that brackets i.e that (excludes, elides, embellishes and skewers) can only run the proverbial risk of trying to bake a cake without real eggs – it just doesn’t taste right – something is missing – and instead of narratives that nourish real understanding; what it does is merely heighten the sense that something is really amiss – where not only does political discourse lack resonance but it fails miserably to slake the yearning to bridge the divide, except perhaps to say this is really what life can only offer.

It stands to reason life in the matrix has to promote passivity; you cant be a very good battery; if you keep jumping out of your casing like a demented Jack in the box; so all articles need to be written in an easy open ended way that doesn’t provoke you to think beyond your comfort zone (that incidentally, is also the place where you die in steady increments, just in case you didn’t know – the comfort zone) – in short, the whole marketing manifesto of “fake is real” is predicated on serving one ratio. The necessary lie that makes the matrix real is; to paraphrase: its capacity to sustain the information exchange by ingratiating and making it seemingly effortless even if it means sacrificing of the truth!

5. “You need to take the step Neo……this is where the road ends for me and begins for you!” Morpheus –the Matrix

And this is where I must stop and you must consider whether you want to continue further on – the choice is yours – the journey that is – because this is not a road map where I tell you what is “real” and what’s “fake.” It doesn’t work that way if you’re already in the Matrix.

6. “Afraid? Be afraid Neo, be very afraid….I can see no more…it’s getting dark…it all comes down to you Neo…you’re last hope.” – The Oracle – The Matrix.

But before all of us begin the journey to re-discovering the “real” off or online Singapore (are you reading slowly?) – its even conceivable stakeholders in the online community (especially those who were not even invited to the recent IPS discussion on 4th March 2007 – which incidentally make up 98% of the online community) may even to consider rewriting the old compact between the custodians of power – do we really want to buy into the idea of empowering ONLY a select few to impose their mind numbing version of online nirvana on our minds? If we remain bovine; then we run the gauntlet of acquiescing our fate to those who may be the least qualified and have the highest motivation to preserve the status quo ante in shaping the internet– that can only offer nothing except perhaps remaking online Singapore into the image of real brick and mortar Singapore – and what one needs to consider is why even try to make online Singapore into the real image of Singapore when all one has to do is step out of the door to experience the latter?

Instead of deep spirited narratives to nourish understanding; if we relegate our fate to this new online world order what we may have to contend with instead is yet another round of endless chelating, leaching and bleaching of states and minds and schools of thoughts into ever smaller slices of nanobites – that reductionism remains the most reliable way to keep derelict academics, hacks and dead wood civil servants employed is never in dispute; but where it slips into a travesty of rational logic is when simple explanations by themselves become the ONLY basis for justifying, legitimizing and mythologizing the upkeep of the status quo ante – it matters little what hangs in the balance; you could just as well take your pick – from how the whole idea of “paper losses” and “long term” is used to explain away the Byzantine losses of GIC to Temasek – right up to perhaps the issue of online anonymity or whether we should appear more credible in our blog or even whether there is a correlation between gaming and suicide premature or the broader idea of how power and politics may shape our thinking – my point is in the absence of an oppositional voice, a contrarian view all of us would be none the wiser – and life in the matrix just goes right on – against this dystopian backdrop; the traditional set pieces of cultural authority don’t offer us a way out the matrix; if anything they seem to be ones who got us all in the gyre – it would not be exaggeration to say everything from the political sphere right down to the everything that makes up the apparatus of mass assimilation in the form of the media these days seems bent on only one corrosive imperative; sharpening our already acute sense of estrangement further and plunging many of us into a state of terminal apathy and indifference.

That could well explain why blogging offers the last manifesto for the disillusioned, dispossessed and disenfranchised; contrary to officialdom; it isn’t just the idea of hammering the government to pulp as its somehow culturally hip to do so or taking perpetual pot shots at the beloved rag only because it provides us all with respite to make our averagely miserable existence more bearable; on the contrary, there is currency to the belief people don’t just pick up something and do it, again and again, day in and day out for the nothing sake – its suggestive the whole act of blogging has to be a verb that is closely associated with the whole idea of faith; where it could even be said, the act of blogging provides us all with the promise of the last real hope – as long as we continue to struggle against the ceaseless cacophony of contrived reality, half truths and missing narratives in the real world – there may yet be hope for the rest of us.

The alternative would simply be a dystopian barren moonscape of settling for the glorious life of the alkaline battery.

Breathe you are still human…and that could just be the cue for you to look underneath your desk – maybe there is an envelop waiting for you with a phone…then again maybe, I am just kidding.

Darkness 2009

“You take the blue pill – the story ends here, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland …… Neo, I don’t know how it will end, all I can tell you for certain how your journey will begin.”

Check Out Our Latest Portal In http://wayangparty.com/

 

 

This is how the movie – the mood for love – was originally supposed to end; why didn’t end this way? Well one reason was because Wong Kar-Wai believed it was too oblique for Western audiences – in his own words: “the problem is; I don’t remember, doesn’t mean, I don’t remember in cantonese.” 

 

So what we have instead is a watered down western ending that is not only full frontal but it also leaves very little room for mystery or beauty – I much prefer this version – where the viewer steps in; and pens off the last chapter.

  

 

As here although one can say many things about this beautifully crafted film; only one thing really stands out: what was never said, but was said; to understand the nuances of how so much can come from so little as to even create a story within a story, one must first understand the beauty of Cantonese, not as a language, but as a way of life, a tao – very much in the way old couples don’t really need words to communicate – all they seem to do is grunt, frown and shift and that’s really enough to carry the weight of a whole sentence – language I am reminded has not only form, structure and symmetry; but it also carries with it the weight of a people’s history. It’s a sort of cellestial roadmap that tells us all; where we came from and where they are going too.

 

While translations may do a great job of explaining how washing machines and battery operated vibrating toys that bring joy to spinsters might work, they rarely if ever do a decent job of conveying the deeper meaning of something as abstract as love – nor can they adequately reflect the differing nature of man and woman as they both struggle to find part of themselves in others who they love; yes, you might say all this serves no ryhme or reason; its really after all the stuff of primroses and parks; hardly something that will quicken the heart of the tax man; but nonetheless to understand it in the way it was meant to be told; it seems one first has to be stupid; to me that’s a very small price to pay for a slice of heaven. 

 

Hold on to your dialect.

 

 

Darkness 2009

 

 

Hey! did you miss out on this? Check it out here: The world’s deadliest game: when bloggers and govt play hide and seek for the truth.

 

 

 

2005-09-09_hello_world_preview_newsDid You Miss Out On This? Read It! Why Did Our Scholars Fuck Up? March 4, 2009

Have you ever being assaulted by the sinking feeling you’re a stranger in your own land? Yes, I know it sounds like the “realization” scene from the Sci-Fi movie, “The Matrix.” But please bear with me and allow me to explain.

1.“Something strange is happening. I just can’t put my finger on it!” – Neo, The Matrix

Have you for example passed a Peranakan building only to wonder why it’s suddenly turned into an Italian restaurant? Or why there is so much glass and steel in China town just off Tanjong Pagar? And what happened to the bustling community of street vendors that once plied their trade and wares there? Like me, do you find yourself wondering how it seems everything these days is mindlessly turned into a giant hermetically sealed glass and steel soviet warehouse? Or when you are just walking around aimlessly in a mall – are you are suddenly seized by the realization, “Hey, this is my day off! What am I doing here, shopping? This isn’t supposed to be fun! This is so unreal, really it is! Is it?” Welcome to the surreal and “unreal” Singaporean lifestyle of today, otherwise known as the Matrix. It’s one that compels us all to ask,

“Where is the real Singapore today? Am I living in the matrix?”

Now I am not discounting for one moment my paranoia could be due to my skewered history as a bent individual. Even today it amazes me how I could manufacture great reams of nostalgia for a childhood that was, in truth, averagely miserable – for example, I am one of those who still lament the sacking of the old red brick National Library and when I enter the space age high tech one in Bugis. It just doesn’t feel the same. The books are still there, but there’s something amiss and it leaves a metallic taste at the back of my mouth that I can’t seem to shake off. Have you ever had one of those feelings before?

I get that sort of feeling at least 3 to 4 times a day. Recently, I had drinks with a few of my classmates in Chimes only to realize somewhere between the third or fourth pitcher, I could perhaps have been magically transported to some Al Fresco drink hole in Anywhereville in middle America. All around me there were Ang Moh’s. Yes, I know I should be quite accustomed to them by now. Really I don’t have any excuse. After all I was educated overseas, but nonetheless I found myself gradually swelling with a sense of estrangement and in no time there I was again; a stranger in my own country. Its enough for me to ask again,

“Where is the real Singapore today? Am I living in the matrix?”

Are we fashioning a global city that edges out the familiar at the expense of the alien? I may be vague or even obscure again, but I know somewhere in the pipeline there is a plan to ram up the population to 6.5 million. How does sit with my notion of the real Singapore? Will you or I wake up one day only to find ourselves working, living and playing in a country that we hardly know as the “real” Singapore anymore? But instead resembled some odd caricature of where east and west meets only to end up as Limboville? Again I find myself asking the question,

“Where is the real Singapore today? Am I living in the matrix?”

2. “The matrix is all around us, we just can’t see it, but it’s there Neo…it’s always there….you just need to look for it…..it’s there.” Morpheus – The Matrix.

One clue to answering this disturbing question lies in dwelling deeper into the word, “real.” What does “real” Singapore or for that matter “real” anything really mean? Well if we put everything in Singapore and boil it down. We would probably be left with a few genres of reality like Singlish, Orchard Rd and perhaps even the Merlion who keeps vomiting water. But surely there must be more to this whole notion of the “real” Singapore? Or is this whole debate of being swarmed by the surreal and unreal only a figment of my imagination? Maybe I am just making a big deal out of nothing; and this struggle between artificial and real doesn’t actually exist? After all I shouldn’t be too concern, its just progress isn’t it. There no matrix – Right?

Think again!

I believe finding the “real” Singapore may actually lay in retracing where we’ve allowed “fake” to supersede our definition of “reality.” That’s to say we need to work backwards to find out how did we actually create the matrix in the first place?

If you think this is a flippant statement dressed up to be more serious than it actually is – I want to assure you again this line of enquiry is jugular! In fact, everywhere we look these days ranging from politics, economics, sociology and technology is redolent with an underlying struggle between real and the unreality of the matrix. It’s a serious question that will ultimately decide whether the future in Singapore will either be dystopia or utopia. The latter is only true if you believe the “facts” that you are typically fed isn’t hyped, spun, polled, statistically manipulated and timed to achieve a desired outcome. Again I may be obscure and vague again, but these days judging from what I read, see and hear what’s constitutes “reality” is frequently closer to the imagination than reality – and that’s disturbing!

3.“But Morpheus, how did it all happen without us knowing about it?” – Neo, the Matrix.

Let me give you an example: consider the word “authentic” which keeps cropping up like a demented Jack-in-the-box in billboards, soap, tin soup etc. The same word that was once used to describe a deeper meaning beyond just “real” is now reduced into a marketing tool word used to sell everything from cup noodle to sugar free green tea. Even this whole idea of “uniquely Singapore,” which if you think really hard about is has as much credibility as a baldy trying to sell hair care products. Now I can go all day throwing out examples, like the “war on terror” (please don’t get me started!) but you get the drift.

From where I am standing everyone these days is getting the latest edition of the “the 3 minute fake to real” software from politicians, business leaders, reporters, subject matter experts, pastors who drive sports cars to even celebrity bloggers. I am reminded we already live in the wired age, where technoconsumerism has not only systematically dumbed down people on staple diet of “less is more” and much of the damage is already inflicted. It has also exacerbated deep spirited “understanding,” by failing to address a host of concerns which constantly vex thinking people by bracketing much of serious discussions concerning race, religion and even politics. That’s what happens when PR-soaked, artificially flavored sound bites are typically passed off as cogent arguments. A whole generation of thinkers are exiled en mass. Or when polls and statistics are regularly used to replace deep spirited substantive debate – and when bloggers write two sentences, throw in a photo, cut and paste to give meaning to what’s happening with planet and people.

The culmination of all these short cuts is not only corrosive to understanding but also serves to merely amplify the “unreal” to suggest it’s for one moment “real” and when it’s done regularly, routinely and repetitively, it’s magically transformed into the truth. I have a word for this, it’s called –propaganda – brain washing – dumbing down!

And this is where we simply have to stop; remember even “life” is just a four letter word.

 

(To be con’t)

 

Darkness 2009

Check Out The Second Installment of Are we living in the Singaporean Matrix Part 2 March 9, 2009

 

 

Hard to believe Stanley Kubrick’s 2000 Space Odyssey was made some forty over years ago – apart from being the grand daddy of all Sci-Fi movies; it set a new benchmark in serious space flicks in both lighting and sets. Even today when I watch it, it manages to rivet and enthrall as it did the first time.

 

One thing that I find fascinating about this movie is how the most interesting character isn’t a person; as it remains a very hao lian computer by the name of HAL 9000 – one that reminds me curiously of our supremo cult of the infallibility scholars – in the beginning it’s hard, if not impossible not to trust HAL. As we are told he takes care of everything from life support to making sure space bugs don’t stick to the windshield of the space ship – HAL seems to do such a good job most of the astronauts don’t seem to have much to do except play with peas, play chess and shadow box all day long.

 

But something soon goes wrong; it always does.

 

What’s interesting about the characterization of HAL is he isn’t just you run of the mill number crunching computer; in the movie, he even comes across as introspective and intelligent in the human sense – for one he mulls over stuff and even wonders over them in a curious sort of way that only humans do – that I feel adds an edge to the plot as we aren’t really sure whether HAL’s emotional (human) side possibly influenced him when he decided to do in his human cargo mid way in the mission.

 

As I said, the characterization of HAL reminds me a lot of our own scholar class – for one they are supposed to represent the cutting edge of human infallibility as in the words of HAL, “we are in every practical definition of the word….incapable of error.”

 

I don’t know for sure whether this was supposed to be parody of smartocracy on the part of Stanley Kubrick, but it sure had the desired effect – as many of us mull over this recession along with its related causes and effects; what has been less discussed has been the role of these super intelligent scholars and how they may or may not have played a part in this whole swan dive – much of it remains speculation, but if I had to plumb a guess; I am sure they played a monumentally big part, not only in the ground work, but also in the planning – only because investing on such a Byzantine scale is really a team effort – don’t get me wrong; I am all for confidence; but I am also reminded taken too far, it just slips into delusions of grandeur and usually that just means taking a wrong turn.

 

And all the evidence suggest this may yet be the root cause accounting for the anatomy of failure.

 

The outcome however is one that is better left unexplored – as the whole point of this post isn’t a barbed repartee as it remains a very serious conversation piece on shattered dreams and missed opportunities – one that should prompt us all to consider whether; the goody good machine would have been better served, if we had considered broadening our definition of intelligence beyond just the corsetted idea of nurturing the scholar class? How wise was it for instance to even trust so much to so few? Should we perhaps extend the ambit of intelligence to even overeach into the domain of practical wisdom? What about those who may have the diversity and breadth to add value to such a undertaking, but lack the pedigree?

 

This just opens up a can of worms that even brings into stark focus the dangers of surrendering the whole idea of decision making to only those who have managed to follow the yellow brick road to attain what we usually term; the best education and best results – that they should be considered intelligent is never in dispute; but what remains less certain is whether that narrow definition of intelligence translates into anything close to the “right stuff.” Evidently not it seems– in this respect the characterization of HAL and our scholar class embodies the timeless struggle for the elusive search for human excellence.

 

It’s one that I am sure will be discussed at length for many years to come.

 

As for me, I’ve go with the dogged eared lesser mortal any day – even if his record is less than examplar and patchy only because he is definitely more grounded and less inclined to leverage on his pedigree – and we all know, in life, it always pays dividends to doubt yourself a bit and from time to time even put yourself down, that’s really allows us to scale threats and opportunities wisely – wisdom.

 

As for the HAL’s of this world – one thing is crystal clear; the only thing we would be entrusting them with from this point onwards is managing a parking lot of bumper cars or a Singapore meterological station somewhere in the Artic to study bird migratory patterns; anything else would just be reinforcing failure. 

 

There is no way to say this politely – so I am not even going to bother taking the edge off it.

 

You all fucked it up! 

 

Darkness 2009

emergency_button2

March 4, 2009 / Read The Latest Article By The Brotherhood Press How Do You Spot a Hao lian Temasek Scholar?

 

 

Tell me could Temasek and GIC have done a better job in outperforming the markets? Was it such a good strategy to put so many of our chips on banks? Was the melt down foreseeable? Is it true to say, paper losses are just paper losses? What about profits then; could they just be paper profits as well?

 

You know what? I dunno. As these days, the MSM seems to be very evasive about the whole idea of delivering news – content is definitely king even if it resembles the idea of bottling Himalayan air – but if you want to know more, then perhaps you can check out these excellent links to gain a deeper understanding of the salient. Go on blow your mind out.

 

GIC’s Conversion from Preferred to Common Marks the Beginning of the End  / “2008 Was a Year to Forget” – 2009 Probably will be One to Forget, Too  / How did our SWFs manage to invest in the 3 worst performing CDO issuing banks???  / UBS Tax Fraud Makes Lee Kuan Yew Look Like a Dufus Dumbo

 

But that is not the point of my essay – that’s really just the garnish. My main dish is a boney fish – question: why is it so hard for elites to admit they screwed up?

 

Why is it so hard to come to terms with the most basic human quality: fallibility? Some people say it has something to do with the whole idea of run-away train ego – I don’t buy into that crappy logic as no one in his right mind is going to go the full nine yards just for ego sake alone – I mean no one, not even the Shah of Iran had the stamina to bear out the naked truth – at some point most people will just make peace with their mistakes and move on as best they can.

 

There has to be something more to the whole business of denial. From my personal experience the vast majority of ordinary folk don’t suffer from denial syndrome – if they screwed up, they just come clean, most of the time, at least. Like when I once went out with this girl who was really into organic food produce – she thought I wasn’t getting enough beta carotene into my system; so she started lacing all my food with carrot everything behind my back – one day when a colleague remarked I reminded him a bit of a jaundiced yellow AA tow truck. I just said to her, “look what you’ve done to me? I trusted you with my gut and look what I’ve turned into?” And she just came clean and that was the end of that.

 

My point is there is absolutely no mileage in going straight up against the unsavoury truth especially when it’s coupled with irrefutable evidence – taken to its extremes – digging in and taking a not-one-step-back defensive position only exacerbates the situation; as all too often it comes across as a form of intransigence and that’s bound to create a impasse in the psyche of those who seek to understand – result: it squeezes out all prospects of forgiveness, healing and hope for reconciliation.

 

Again why do elites find it so difficult to come clean when they screw up?

 

Most of us know there’s no profit in dealing with a mistake by sweeping the facts underneath the carpet or dumbing down the facts. Neither does it pay to ignore the evidence and hope with time no one will remember and all the evidence will just disappear.

 

Again why is it so difficult for elites to come clean when they screw up?

 

I guess one reason why elites feel the need to sell the charge of light brigade as a sound enterprise is they have invested so much their raison in the myth of infallibility – never mind that most people don’t see either the exceptionality or value in the whole proposition of how if good wins over bad its simply because of the whole idea of a few good men; that’s what happens when the idea assumes the end rather than a means to an end – the show simply has to go on for better or worse, right or wrong.

 

One clue why most of us perceive a dissonance (real or imagined) is because we don’t have much trouble making out those gaping fault lines – where myth gives way to inconvenient truth. But once you’re in gyre – its not so simple – the line of sight gets cloudy; periphery vision narrows. Result – you only see the world the way, you want to see it.

 

That in a nutshell is what elitism excels in embellishment – it matters little whether it’s the idea scholars are the most reliable people or perpetuating the departmental claptrap there is an acute scarcity of talent – observation even suggest elites aren’t really elites in the true sense of the word – otherwise why aren’t they regularly making the red carpet walk to collect the Nobel prize every year? I mean if you want anecdotal gold standard proof then it doesn’t get higher than that, unless you can convince the rubber dodo bird award happens to be a higher standard for individual and organizational excellence.

 

Like I said, it matters little whether it’s the Samurais who once banned gunpowder just so they could perpetuate their class politics by nurturing the cult of the sword; or the Manchu’s who developed the art of loosing arrows from horseback to monopolize a valuable skill-at-arms to allow them to assert their hegemony – my point is at some stage; the whole idea elitism gets so ritualized and stylized that form eventually supplants function so completely that it ceases to be a reliable way to deliver excellence; that’s when it becomes so sclerotic and sedentary that it can only be worthless – if you are wondering why ST cannot seem to find the entrepreneurial imagination to prosper in the digital age – wonder no more, there you have it the reason in the palm of your hands – if you’re wondering why the Lehman bros, Madoff’s and Satyam’s of this world took an ignominious swan dive – there it is again.

 

In every single case without even a single exception; the myth i.e ONLY a select chosen few can be entrusted to be sole purveyors of goodness played out to deadly effect – and the post mortem all revealed, none of them even so much as considered looking twice at the error of ways to even consider changing course to avoid disaster – its a sad, sad tale.

 

Its suggestive; something akin to slow acting poison must have played out to make it all but impossible for elites to even come to terms with their own failings, limitations and need to reinvent themselves – tragic realism it seems, requires them to insist on their version of rightness even when everything goes down the chute – but what’s even sadder is not because it serves the imperative of the truth and greater good; but rather by that late stage in the game; the die is truly cast and it conceivable; they may not even control the system any longer; as much as the system owns them lock, stock and barrel to even demand of them to insist on their version of the truth, at every oppurtunity and turn – and with that, the last stanza can really only read like the last flight of Icarus; all that remains now is the epic fall from grace.

 

It’s game over.

 

 

Darkness 2009

 

china_nuke_soldierThese days don’t be surprise if you suddenly find, the job description of the Secretary of State closely resembles the life and times of Charles Ponzi – in the not so distant past this venerated office once had something to do with saving people and planet.

These days under the new Obama administration, it’s stripped right down to the chassis to do only one thing, it seems – sell American bonds. Yes, Hillary Clinton has become the No.1 carpetbagger of the world.

Recently after wrapping up her trip to China she threw human rights and freedom of speech right out of the window like Soraya Esfendiary– instead the whole discussion with Chinese premier centered on financing American debt.

Don’t believe me, here you go: LA Times: Hillary went on to say by continuing to buy U.S. Treasury bonds, “the Chinese are recognizing our interconnections.” (what’s that supposed to mean?) Now if you are a simpleton like moir who isn’t used to deciphering foreign relations double speak; what she is actually saying is this.

We (Americans) need to print a whole lot of money to get us all out from the shit pot and as you well know since Nixon last de-pegged the dollar from the gold standard – that means all of you (Chinese) have no choice but to continue to buy more this worthless papers bonds because we are telling you now, that we are going to keep printing money and that simply means – if you don’t continue to buy more US bonds; then what’s going to happen is they’re going to lose their value and all your investments will go up a giant mushroom cloud. And since you (Chinese) already have a couple of warehouses full of them, it doesn’t matter, if you just build a couple of more; you have no choice but to keep buying them till we print ourselves out of this shit hole. Get it?

That’s the long and short of it – anyone who is trying to gloss it over is lying to you.

So in real terms what we have is the same Bush Pax Americana of “you are with us; or against us!” doctrine albeit this time is conducted with lashings of velvet gloves and gobble-d-guck parlance.

This is another classic example of the good olde American con job – only what really disturbs me this time is Hillary is even prepared to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses in China providing it serves her order books; that just goes to prove what I have always suspected about Obama – he is a crook, when it comes down to jugular issues, he is the same like the rest of the hucksters and charlatans on Capitol hill – he will start to make trade off and cost benefit calculations just like any junkyard merchant and it doesn’t even matter if he needs to compromise on certain cardinal points such as human rights, saving the whales and probably child labor – so much for his I have a dream speech – you know what I always knew he was a con-man, his eyes are too close together – I bet you all didn’t notice that?

I want my $50 back Obama!

Darkness 2009

 

People aren’t so different from cars – some are built like hardy Land Rovers others are like capricious Italian roadsters that bite back when you don’t stroke them right; then there those who even try to kill you by leaching deadly exhaust fumes when all you want to do is snuggle for up for a decent nookie – others just catch on fire for no rhyme or reason like my first girlfriend – I called the fire brigade and they gave her a good hosing down and the insurance firm packed her off to national steel – where she probably got reincarnated into my poltergeist washing machine that goes on spin mode for no apparent in the middle of the night.

 

Then there those who are full of sound and fury, only to come out short on the draw when you floor them – along with those who need the illusion of rising by putting others down. Till of course, you get behind them and realized they’re just like the others either saddling you with cancer of the wallet or can’t be relied on.

 

Then just when you fall into a lull and think, all cars are only cars. One day, you come across a machine that surprisingly crosses out all your disbeliefs in one straight line – you know from this moment onwards, this is the one that you will always go with in life; others may come and go, but this one will always be in your drive way; they don’t need much effort to convince you, you’ve made the right decision. You could say, its almost intuitive – you even know it deep down in your bones, you can go the long haul with this one; they don’t ever need to shout to get their message across; they never need to fight for attention to tell you how great and important they are like the others or even feel the need to show off – if they had to do all that, they probably never had in the first place – they are so centered; they’ve got it together.

 

As for the rest, they are still fighting to reach that mythical place called wholeness – they’re still fighting to be believed; while the one that you’ve decided to go all the way with has arrived; everything is the way it was meant to be.

 

I (probably a soviet built Lada with roof rack) have been very fortunate all my life – I have always been able to meet the Mercedes Benz of the human species who make up my circle of friends – some of them are flashy; others stately, then there are the run of the mills who could do with a two coats of polish, but all of them have one thing in common – they’re true to their spirit – when you boil life right down to four wheels and an engine block it’s all about only one thing: relationships – the rest are bicycle, trains and planes.

 

If only people can just learn from cars, all our problems will come to end very quickly and life will just be one long happy ride.

 

What sort of car are you?

 

Drive safely

 

Darkness 2009

 

eeb2_emergency_exit_button_single_s15491

Get your latest Brotherhood Press article here: Just when you thought the pain is finally over another round of grief comes right in through the window like a tomahawk guided missile – kaboom!

I am sure all of you heard about the latest citigroup stinger – its just a tad comical reading the ST today (3th March 2009 in page 4 & 5) while it seems like a big blow to Prince Alwaleed bin Talal.

Absolutely nothing was mentioned about GIC.

Wonder no more – content is definitely king; even when its invisible. It manages to command an intrinsic value like maybe the whole idea of marketing Himalayan air in a bottle.

Lets get right down and dirty here; what does all this maneuvering in Citigroup mean? I mean, lets say if you’re just a simple auntie, policeman, caregiver or teacher or someone like me who dont really know much about financial matters – what does all this mumbo jumbo mean?

Let me just walk you through it. In simple terms, it just means this: what was once paid for has now lost alot of it’s value – I mean alot! 

How did it happen? Well it all started when the U.S government decided they are going to convert 25 billion dollars of capital into Citigroup ordinary shares.

Key word here is ordinary, but you just as well throw that out and it wouldn’t make a dent to your understanding.

The long and short of all this is it closely resembles the story of going out fishing with a snakey gay; you both catch the same fish (cross line); you both argue about who should take it home; he comes up with a bet to play your backside and the first person to say, “I give up” loses the fish – he goes first and you tahan the best you can; then when he’s finished and it comes to your turn (providing you happen to be gay too) – he tells you, you can keep the fish. That’s right we kena con!

And how will this all happen?

Singapore will have to (the devil is definitely in the details) convert it preferred notes to ordinary shares – GIC is paying $3.25 a share for shares now worth $1.50. (market close, time of publication)

So that means its original $6.88b stake is now worth $3.2b. (Inspirid worked this out, the guy that used to run IS, the comment box is not working, so I’ve put it up here!)You go and work out how many percentile point losses that is in real terms. This is really too depressing for me; I need to put some maggi mee on the stove (I can’t afford to go out anymore for fun) and snuggle up to something economical, big boned and sweet to give me a head massage. If you want to read more, check out these links:

(Disclaimer: Pls verify and check out for yourself what I have said here – it may or may not be true – remember the internet is full of lies and disinformation and populated by very bad people. Besides getting reliable information about GIC is like getting information from Area 51 – no one knows what they are doing.)

 

 

Darkness 2009

Why is it so difficult for Elites to admit they screwed up?

March 3, 2009

 

Get the latest Brotherhood Press article here: The Illusion of Chasing Online Credibility March 1, 2009

 

You know what? I learn a lot from the people I mix with – I am a firm believer in networking; there are even two CEO’s in my cycling team; a couple of self made millionaires, even a neurosurgeon and loads of lawyers, but if I had to point to one group of people who has really changed my perspective in life in these past few years. It has to be the police.

 

Some of my best mates happen to be in the force. We do a lot of things together; kendo, cycling, climbing, but the one thing, we do best is talk and talk and talk and talk – and through the years; I have learnt a lot from the my police buddies – I am not joking when I say this, but if I had to point to one main reason why I have been able to avoid a serious fall; and it doesn’t really matter whether its in personal relationships (like how long can you smile at a pretty girl on the train without coming across like a crazed stalker) or something really important like deciding to buy a big ticket item to investments – it’s because through the years; I have applied police interviewing and interrogation techniques to almost every single thing in my life.

 

When I square off the accounts – police know how – has saved my chops more than once – I learn to spot liars a mile off away – avoid, gold diggers –  I even know when someone is holding out on me –  and I never step into a place that I cannot walk out of – never etc.

 

Now if you think police interview and interrogation techniques have absolutely nothing to do with your life – then you’re dead wrong – it could just as well be successfully used to make sure, you don’t sign up for a bad investment plan, or if you happen to be a manager; it may well save you from making a $58 billion fuck up – through the years, I found out that by just using the simple wisdom of the mata-mata, we can all get ahead in life – and if you want to know more about it, just check out this clip – trust me after this, you’ve see our friendly boys in blue in a completely new light  –  

 

Thanks again Killamaru, Red Lighter and Blue Raptor.

 

Darkness 2009

240sci-fi206I just have 15 minutes to spare before I gear off for a spot of cycling – so we’ve going dive in straight into the deep end on this one – Question: Is it reasonable to even expect the internet to be credible?

 

I don’t know. Though judging from the way policy makers seem to go on and on like a broken record online credibility seems to be very important  – they seem to be almost single minded in reminding us that we must be responsible for what we write and present online – its hard to know who believes what these days, but no matter; lets not sweat the small stuff and just go with the flow on this one.

 

Have you ever considered; what’s really behind this obsession about online credibility? Why should policy makers even feel the overwhelming need to insist that online discourse should be credible? Let not even go into the broader area of how they’re insisting that we’re all credible, as that’s a whale of a subject – let’s just focus on this one topic.

 

One clue accounting for this oddly naïve insistence that the internet should conform to some acceptable form and structure stems largely from an acute anxiety on the part of policy makers; the internet may be some sort of mysterious wonder weapon like the ark of the covenant – for one can be weaponized with remarkable ease even by monkeys – and its effects can even be far reaching spewing out digital death rays in every direction with impunity.

 

It’s easy to buy into this sense of urgency when the internet is hung in the rogues gallery besides Dante’s seventh level of hell; and to some extent; myth even manages to eclipses reason; when one considers how the internet was often touted as the l’enfant terrible that dealt the ruling Barisan Nasional the proverbial kiss of death in the last Malaysian general elections, reducing the Malay elite to a bunch of shambolic mumblers; though I suspect what may have actually tilted the balance in favor of the opposition may also have been good olde fashion slip shod governance, slow mail, sms, petrol vouchers and the ubiquitous underwater sound quality DVD porno – my point is simply this; despite the ongoing preoccupation with the latent powers of the internet, a lot of it still remains the stuff of princesses kissing croaking frogs, alchemy and black magic – how much impact the internet may have on the politics of the day, or to wonder what conditions must first be obtained if they it is to have an impact; still remains a question of endless speculation – and even if the experts disagree on many things; all remain unanimous how the dystopian net may win the day is still a matter of considerable debate.

 

The hubris of having to deal with an “unknown quantity” is what I suspect to be at the bedrock of anxiety – and this is manifested in why policy makers continue to insist no end the internet should at least have the decency to conform to some semblance of understandable order – the dissertates range from Ah Liu’s recent condemnation of the netizens and how none of us could muster enough heart to avail Ah Seng – to the ongoing game of you-must-behave-yourself-otherwise-I-don’t-fren you strategy that is currently pursued. In every single case the underpinnings are clear: the internet is the nail that sticks out; it must be hammered down!

Its precisely that departmental attitude towards the internet that’s a source of pain to most thinking folk; and its exacerbated recently when the custodians are increasingly speaking a language of panic and treating online credibility not as one of many competing values but as the one value that trumps all others.

 

The problem is this diffusion of nervous energy is missing one vital ingredient; a genuinely alarmed public. Truth remains most netizens care about credibility mainly in the abstract whenever they blog. I am not saying everyone is terminally ambivalent about coming across as sane, mature and worth reading in cyberspace; only most netizens don’t really see the need to buy into the idea of credibility anymore than people who have real hair need to buy a wig. I’m no exception – and that’s one reason why when I hear toe curling commentaries about how the government should only respond to “credible” voices online – I find that not only does it put my character in a false light but a kind of appropriation of self is even going on; one where I even have to consider self censoring my thoughts should I wish to be taken seriously; but what if I don’t wish to assume that mantle; what if blogging isn’t a way to change the world as it remains a reliable way to preserve something valuable; and that thing being preserve could well be memories of my averagely miserable childhood to perhaps something more important like a critical way of viewing life as it unfolds – I am reminded when people blog; a sort of alchemy is going on in their heads; a man may be Christian, heterosexual, drive a Japanese car, Manchester united supporter, stir his coffee anti clockwise – but which one of these wins over the rest when he decides to hack away at his keyboard? People are complicated; and my feel is it doesn’t pay to expect them to conform to a set of ideals; not if all it does is level the field of possibilities further by forwarding the binary view one is either switched on or off, successful or a failure; scholar or peasant; chosen on or damned, credible or just plain rubbish and not worth engaging – how might that sort of reductionism serve the greater imperative of building a diverse and vibrant net? Well it cannot.

 

My point is simply this; government may simply have to reconcile themselves with the idea if the goal is build a better net; then instead of trying to funnel the online community into a way of thinking – what they may need to do is to simply let go. I know the idea sounds incredulous and even a trifle dangerous – but that logic isn’t so different from how the big cities of this world manage to consistently winnow the real winners from the losers; for one none of them subscribe to the ideal of zoo keeping as reliable way of seeding the good and driving out the bad.

 

In fact, the paradox of big cities like New York, Tokyo and Paris isn’t so different from the social landscape that makes up our internet; though its often fingered for its rudeness, its arrogance and along with its moral turpitude – resentment may yet be the highest form of compliment a city can receive; and it precisely because of this mish mash between good and bad as it tries to work its way out – that its serves as lightning rod to attract the brightest and smartest; who even see feral and even brutish city life as the best way to reinvent oneself – only don’t ever buy into the belief for one moment, New York can be New York – Paris can be Paris; if no one ever bothered with the wisdom of tolerating the bad, in the great hope the good would somehow be able to win the day – that is really the linchpin of this essay – the tao of letting things be; instead of thinking you’re Mr Know it all.

 

It worries me therefore that what seems to be playing out these days (look closely and you will see it) is something that I can only describe as a sorry state of sovietization – the idea as LSL recently lay on in prosaic terms as:

 

“But even in the Internet, there are places which are more considered, more moderated where people put their names down and identify themselves. And there is a debate which goes on and a give and take, which is not so rambunctious but perhaps more thoughtful. That is another range.” Lee.S.L Feb 2009

 

 

Despite my best efforts to find something redeeming about this whole idea – I cannot, only because when one boils down these statements to crud; its not so different from the idea of scrubbing streets clean and making sure all the picket fences are ram-rod straight and everyone can be counted to sip and not slurp their soup – for one it smacks of zoo keeping; one that even suggest if there was ever such city that was ever so sanitized and gutted out to make everything just right for the government to dip its porcelain feet into – it never even once existed in real life except perhaps in the deepest firmament of some fairytale; not even Disneyland despite its zing and panache for the surreal can gut out the human condition these days; when the average internet savvy kid these days knows only too well the evil decepticons has vaporized snow white and as for the seven dwarfs –they’re probably languishing in some virtual salt mines eking out make belief gold for the triads in China – as I said, it doesn’t pay to buy into the illusion of a credible net, not if it comes at the cost of reducing everything to binary logic.

 

Life doesn’t work that way; never did and never will – and it may be wiser for government to just take the net for what it is, to paraphrase, this is as good as it will ever get.

 

The perverse effect of this great diffusion of energy to build an online Pyongyang by attempting to instill the necessary quotient of credibility online – only means, all of us can expect government to behave like some auntie with a nervous tick; as if it’s an urgent matter to understand who though what and to award them good and bad marks for their ideas; may yet yield the opposite result; instead of online engagement which is of a deep spirited kind where issues may be brought to light with the force of reason; what’s likely to be played out is a rendition of more of the same – where despite the best efforts of government to connect with the online community – all they would have done is recreate the very sameness that once provoked so many to migrate online in search of something that doesn’t cause pain to thinking folk – its suggestive it may even sharpen the already acute sense of estrangement further as one can really only bear so much perfidiously happy faced hear only the good stuff without puking over the cat.

 

Now you don’t have an excuse to say; no one told you; so if that bullocart gets run over by the blogo-train – don’t look at me as I will just say; you may need to work on your credibility.

 

Need to hit the road now.

 

Darkness 2009

 

The Incredible Koreans

February 26, 2009

No one in this planet does it better then the Koreans when it comes to pumping out tear jerkers – they are the indisputable Toyota motors of love stories; and when I first started writing love stories; they were simply inspirational in every way possible – from plot, cadence, speed and texture – I copied these masters unabashly, now you know why the brotherhood press love stories division is so prolific – some may balk at all this; and say most of these yarns are nothing more than superficial rehashed Mills & Boons reads – I disagree; the plot may seem trite only because you’re distanced by your prejudice and ignorance – but once you immerse yourself in them and get beneath the triteness and invest your heart and soul in them; they’re astonishingly beautiful, sensitive and heart warming in every sense – many years ago before the internet age began; I lost someone who was very dear to me to lymphatic cancer – she left suddenly and it left me with this incredible hole in my heart which I can only describe as an eternal abyss – at first, I tried to bring her back to life in the virtual; I scoured the world for the best animators, best mathematicians, best illustrators; money was no object; I even once stormed a replica of Taj Mahal with 100 Sardokhan elite troops to create paradise for her – despite their very best efforts no matter how real they fashioned her; they were never able to capture her essence; – her spirit always remained elusive and afar; and that hole in my heart was never ever filled – it was only when I sat down and began to write love stories and started churning them out like a cookie factory; that I began to understand for the very first time in my life – how pain and joy are in fact one of the same reality; and the rest is really grist to the mill; as I had to immerse myself into my characters and experience what they really felt – and with that came a deep spirited understanding of love and courage.

 

Someday my animators will get it right and she will smile the way I remembered her – till then while the story goes on – somewhere in amid the tears and laughter, there will always be a place called paradise and she will never be far away from me.

 

Happy Birthday Sarah,

 

Darkness forever – I’ve see you in my dreams.

an_eye_for_an_eye

[Before we begin, please take some time to check out the new Brotherhood Press portal in http://wayangparty.com/ I know many of you have heard many negative things about Wayang, but I say, you owe it to yourself to find out first hand by yourself   – this new portal will go a very long way to enhance your accessibility as we now have  Ekunaba; PBK along with SLF1 to SLF2 – check it out!)

Recently when Channel Neuter Asia, celebrated its 10th anniversary year, Mr Lee floated the idea there is a need for a channel which is not wearing what he termed “Western spectacles”.

He went on to add, in this new landscape of news; there was scope for reportage from the perspective of the Asian eye. One which hopefully would not promote ideology or a doctrine, but just present the facts.

Well, I guess if you gut out the gobble-d-guk, what LHL is trying to say is: the western press simply isn’t willing to play ball with the government of the day; they are really a loose canon – that’s to say they have a habit of calling a spade a spade (I wonder why duh!) and that fear is perfectly understandable when you consider how things haven’t really been going that well for us – with many of our great plans giving way like the river to the sea – the Byzantine losses incurred by both Temasek and GIC recently – along with ricketty idea of the 1st division dream team – all these dissonances can only continue to get the electron microscope treatment; so I guess one way of countering the influence of the western press is to create an alternate universe of “news.” Yes, throw out the rule book and write a new one – from where I am standing; that’s really how I see it (but please prove me wrong, if you dare).

Now as some of you may already know; I am not a very big fan of cultural hyperbole and it doesn’t really matter whether its from the East, West or the planet of the Apes – and one reason why I think that’s a bankrupt strategy is because it’s so pastry light; it doesn’t  even have the resilience to stand up to a decent kung fu panda kick.

For example if you begin to pick at lets say any homegrown icon like (e.g Peranakan values = where it seems their only preoccupation in of a Nyonya is torture chamber maid no end) our much vaunted Asian values – and begin to peel away the layers of embellishment; what you’ve eventually discover is the whole idea is really predicated on a myth rather than anything resembling anecdotal truth.

Having said, that I don’t discount – the fuzzy idea of Asian values is still very much the preferred crowbar for politicians whenever they run out of bullet points; only lets be clear; it’s never because Asian values or heritage is reliable purveyor of solid reasons to do or not to do something, but rather it’s the direct opposite: bias is the very point of heritage – and there lies the danger when the idea of Asian as an idea or construct is juxtaposed against the broader canvass of what we normally term as news.

And let me tell you another thing: why when you combine heritage in the form of Asian, Persian or Planet of Apes values into something as malleable as news – then you will never be able to get an open inquiry and even less of a comprehensive truth that may even keep scrupulously close to the anecdotal evidence – since the idea of Asian is essentially a term that invokes heritage – and heritage excels on bending, exaggerating, inventing and embellish the whole idea of the truth –what sort of news do you think you are going to get – a la rojak lah or maybe primadelli chocolate kanasai cake variety?

The other bunfight that bothers me about mixing heritage with news is unlike history, heritage is never open to critical challenge – as it doesn’t seek to compromise as much as assert its raison detre  – its very much the stuff that belongs to that grey area of faith, hijab, taking off your shoes before you enter, eating rice with your hand that you dont wipe your ass with yada yada yada yada yada yada lah/ You get my point lah – if you really want real news – then the last thing you want to do is go down that road of this cannot think – that cannot say – because it is patang or soey – no thank you .

And this should prompt us all to consider whether it’s such a good idea to combine the two – as even the timing may all be wrong –  at a time when the world is besieged by conflict, enmities, and recently loss of faith in so many of cultural set pieces, like wall street, government and corporate leaders – the whole idea of combining news with heritage /  doesn’t open up our minds to solicit deeper understanding – as much as it narrows our already myopic vision further by focusing on homily sugary hear only the good news stuff – as I said when you begin to peel off the lid on something like Asian values; that’s all it really is – bottled air – it’s a cloud; not unless you want to be served up with soundbites and doggy sized vignettes instead of whole disquisitions that may be able to provide an intelligent explanation for the before, during and after (like how did Temasek lose so much money – come on down here and debate with me – I will put you in a nice citrus smelling pine box – unfortunately, I dont know, as it was really like Haley’s comet when it was featured in our beloved rag)

I am not saying for one moment heritage doesn’t have the capacity to work it’s spell; it does; only what we need to be mindful of here is it leverages specifically on our emotional strengths and weaknesses. No doubt that’s a good thing sometimes (why do you think,  I invoke it at the end of every month when I run out of money and need my woman to pay the bills), without it countries cannot win wars; they would have the moral stamina to see the through the tough; governments will capitulate and anarchy will rein unbridled. Only what we need to be mindful of is when we talk about heritage; its not eu de cologne as it’s very much parfum – a little goes a long way; and if tipped over the scales – heritage has every capacity be oppressive, decadent and sclerotic – trapping us all in obsolete attitudes and promoting xenophobia and blind nationalism – and the danger is amplified considerably when its combined with such a capricious thing as news.

Besides the whole idea of Asian values and the logical extension of Asian news – is hardly a settled matter – historical observation may suggest even something as ram rod no nonsense as Asian values may in fact have more to do with fairytales and even less to do with listening to our elders; personal sacrifice and towing the line obediently – all too often when comparatives are made between the decadent West and Asia – the Asian values bullocart is often rolled out to account for our moral rectitude along with probably our iron willed work ethic to why Asians can survive on a diet of insects and twigs – and usually the song and dance is cued to suggest; if good triumphs over evil; good prevailed over bad by the narrowness of margins and this could only be purchased with endless self sacrifice to freedom, democracy and free speech – all these were placed before the altar of necessity to deliver us the good life – here what you may need to ask yourself is whether this simplistic account of to get the good life – you need to stop sticking out like a nail is such a good idea – dont get me wrong; I am a willing tax payer; only why should I give any governments the card blanche to do anything they want in return for the good life? I will not and its really as simple as that. Again its something to consider. 

And this leads me to the kicker – history may even suggest our understanding of Asian values – as a body of knowledge – or school of thought – may actually have nothing to do with how it’s commonly sold and marketed by politicians ; during the dark ages for example when Europeans were busy chasing vampires around country sides to stake them and burning heretics; Emperor Akhbar Khan had enacted the most comprehensive laws guaranteeing freedom of worship along with creating a haven where intellectuals of every genre were encourage to revivify the arts and sciences – bottom line: truth reveals real Asian values has nothing to do with blind sacrifice – blind obedience – or valuing the idea of the community in such a way where none of us may be willing to rock the boat. If anything it illustrates that we should continue to go and question boldly and confidently.

And that’s what I am doing now. You chew on that for the time being (to be con’t)

Darkness 2009 – The brotherhood Press 2009

Moderation or Mind trick?

February 24, 2009

kendo(Before we start, I just want to give three cheers to our friendly Malaysian side kick Cowboy Caleb for helping us out – yeeeeeeeeeha! Meanwhile take some time and check out our new Brotherhood Press portal here – http://wayangparty.com/ – go on blow your mind out! Check out the cartoons – they’re hilarious!)

 

In these few days; an obsession with moderation and self regulation of internet material has mushroomed all over cyberspace and the MSM – you know what? I am actually in favor of moderating the internet; that’s why I was looking forward to it; only I can’t help feeling something is amiss……

 

Don’t believe me, then read this and try to figure out what’s wrong with these statements:

 

Anonymity in cyberspace is an illusion. You will remember in 2007, we prosecuted three persons under the Sedition Act because of the blogs they put up which denigrated the religion of one of our communities in Singapore. ” – Vivian Balakrishnan Feb 2009

 

“But even in the Internet, there are places which are more considered, more moderated where people put their names down and identify themselves. And there is a debate which goes on and a give and take, which is not so rambunctious but perhaps more thoughtful. That is another range.” Lee.S.L Feb 2009

 

Question: what does anonymity have to do with the broader subject of moderation and self regulation?

 

Well the miniskirt prognosis is nothing actually.

 

This leads us to consider: what really accounts for this mish mash then?

 

Well, if you want to understand what’s going on here; then you really need to think like a weapons specialist; it’s not designed to be a weapon of shock and awe; it quite the opposite really – like a submarine or nerve gas, its supposed to operate just beneath the periphery of our consciousness where it helped along by being odorless and colorless and unseen – we should all decide to shirk off our anonymous tags like wet blankets; we’ve come of age; if we don’t step forward into the light, then we must all suffer from some grave defect of character (which shouldn’t be too hard proving a few times over in my case).

 

What really accounts for this strategy of reductionism and simplification? My feel is we may be dealing with a classic case of good odle fashion scare mongering, and. We are not even talking about the smart variety either; as it smacks of the same dumb & dumber variety that Christian fundamentalist usually resort too whenever they suggest the spread of AIDS is due solely to the permissive gay lifestyle; that may be palpably true if truths are gleaned from one level of intelligence, if only you didn’t realize, the predominant cause for the spread of HIV these days is due to the sharing of infected needles by junkies and it’s in fact perpetuated by heterosexuals who have no concept of safe sex – African women these days are the main carriers of HIV.

 

That I suspect could be why the subject of anonymity is slipped alongside the broader issues of moderation and self regulation as an adjunct; apart from being a great way of establishing guilt by association; its also a very effective way to muffle the truth, cook the logical accounts and distort the whole debate into something which it obvious not meant to be – criminalizing anonymity – stands the test of reason; give a dog a bad name and you have every right to shoot it on sight – consider this: if the whole idea of the feral and brutish net could be easily explained away by just fingering anonymity as the culprit and root of evil; who stands the most to gain from it?

 

You get my drift now – instead of government having to deal comprehensively with the cogent question which require keeping scrupulously close to the evidence (which might incidentally incriminate them, could this by any chance have something to do with how many people they have put in jail and bankrupted? No, surely not – I am sure anonymity and the army of 12 monkeys are to be blamed) – the whole debate about how to drive out bad and seed the greater good is effectively reduced into a declaration of faith – a fait accompli –where none of us may even feel the need to ask: why do so many people feel the need to remain anonymous? What accounts for the pull factor?

 

Not having to own up – simply means responsibilities can be shirked away surreptitiously – and ‘no regrets’ galore can be invoked with impunity – along with perhaps perpetuating the mantra; its business as usual. No need to streamline government policy, attitudes and outlooks either to find ever more inventive and creative ways to stop the incentive for anonymity. The attitude towards progress is reminiscent of Joseph Heller’s wartime satire piece about the mind numbing pathos of  war in Catch 22 – “….scrub out battle fatigue and soon all the symptoms disappear along with the disease and hospital beds and soon everybody is good to go again for another round of hell. No need to even explain, no need for long reports, a broad tip marker would do the job nicely – scrub out the word, I say! That’s an order!”

 

That may sound comical; but it isn’t when you consider; if the imperative is to get right down and created a better platform to facilitate online discourse then why are we eliding whole sale the deeper underlying reasons which may yet account for online anonymity? 

 

Why for example do so many netizens find anonymity (real or imagined) so comforting? How does anonymity serve to palliate the acute sense of fear of netizens? What really disturbs me is when the whole issue of online anonymity is served up like a prawn cocktail beside moderating the internet – everything testable, comprehensive in so far as belonging to a universal chronology of cause and effect that would have been able to sensibly explain the root cause for anonymity is simply thrown right out of the window – it’s like wet glass, it even manages to slalom such contentious issues once brought up by Catherine Lim when she wrote about the climate of fear along with it’s corrosive effects how it may retard society as a whole.

 

My point is simply this; one cannot place the horse before the cart and expect to make meaningful progress; if the imperative is to get people to come out into the open; then its foolhardy to believe this gargantuan mental shift can be purchase on the cheap without having to first discuss and dismantle the culture of fear that accounts for the acute anxiety that makes online anonymity such an attractive proposition – here one runs the real risk of prescribing panaceas which may exacerbate rather than resolve the cognitive dissonance.

 

Neither does it serve the greater interest – if all government can do is advance the dodgy sound bite theory; all our problems will melt away happily like lemon drops, if only all of us are prepared to step out from our anonymous tags – again that idea is based on the assumption anonymity is the main reason that accounts for the feral and brutish net. No one denies anonymity may embolden some towards unmitigated nastiness just like perhaps binge drinking – it’s a failing common to everything from fruit machine addiction to perpetual masturbation; but to suggest for even one moment stepping out from anonymity alone may by it’self be able to drive out the bad and somehow seed the good has to be at best an overtly optimistic take and a worst a presentist view of a far deeper social problem.

 

Like all such broad sweeping claims, this medley raises some awkward questions:“will people continue to speak without fear and favor if they don’t have the benefit of the anonymous tag?”

 

What particular disturbs me is no where in the whole debate about seeding a greater good does this question even feature once (which in my opinion remains the most important question). And yet even many in the net have frequently pointed out – that sufficient people will only step forward out from their anonymous shells, if they believe it is not just useful, but safe to do so – and again this leads us to all to consider – how might the government’s record endear itself to such a happy exodus of mass belief (or delusion)? Again it’s something that must be worked through; if the imperative is to get at the truth.

 

The perverse effect of all this enquiring could well produce the reverse conclusion: anonymity may yet remain the best way for us to grow holistically as a community; when we recount how even the luminaries of lore so often wore it as a badge of honor to deal with parochialism, narrowness and insularity of their age – I am reminded, things just don’t get picked up for no apparent reason; usually there’s an impulse behind it and it’s coupled with a good reason: African women for example, still carry water on their heads in earthen pots: reason, their well endowed hips swings outwards at 20 degrees as a result of their gait displacing the kinetic energy of the extra weight reducing it to a zero – far more efficient that even military backpack – drains in Calcutta slums don’t have gratings because they double as public latrines.

 

Similarly, when people plumb to remain anonymous online; its usually for the same good set of reasons – that could be the reason why Galileo Galilee first published his treatise anonymously in direct opposition to the catholic view that all heavenly planets revolved around the earth thereby starting the first internet correspondence with other anonymous medieval scientist who did the same to probably avoid being stretched out on a pelt rack by the Spanish inquisition; the same can be said, of that other famous pamphleteer Thomas Paine who once vigorously cried out for independence against the occupational forces of King George and later went on to be one of the founding fathers of the American constitution – these were the prototypal bloggers of their age; they were the intellectuals who once not only shaped the direction, cadence and verve of the social narrative of their times but they did so under the cloak of anonymity as it provided them a means of speaking out without fear or favor.

 

The case is too clear to deny; too strong even to displace on a wimp and fancy; its one that even suggest if government really desire netizens to step out into the full glory of light; then they should first dedicate themselves to earning the trust and respect of the online community; start by laying down the hatchet that you once used to knock Catherine Lim, Mr Brown and countless others whose only crime was to speak their mind for the betterment of the collective good; better still beat that hatchet into a ploughshare – then and only then; do you ask people to come out into the open. Otherwise no deal – go and die lah.

 

Meanwhile I remain yours truly; very happily in Darkness 2009.

 

cockpitI love to sail. One of the greatest misconceptions about sailing is you don’t really get away from it all – as much as get deeper into yourself  that may sound odd; but that’s only because most of us don’t really know ourselves; most of the time we just get by with the idea we know ourselves and since land is a pretty forgiving place like a kiddies playground – that idea never really gets tested and our sense of vulnerability is never pushed to the razor’s edge – like I said, you don’t really know yourself till you’ve gone sailing all alone by yourself.

The sea is not a place to fuck around – for one it can kill you in about 2 million ways.

If you think real hard about it; how can you even claim to know yourself these days?

From the moment you wake up to the moment you switch off; we’re always in contact with people; whether you like to admit it or not; people do prop up our lives; for one they tell us sweet lies to make our unbearable life more bearable – I know this only too well, for some reason every woman seems to like asking me; “is my bum too big for this dress?” – the problem is the right answer never comes around -get my drift – so usually, I come up with something saucy like, “you look great!” – great my hairy ass lah!

Even the people who regularly cause us grief prop up our lives; they give us plenty of excuses to dump on them – blaming them to take the edge off our own mistakes; and those who we like to hang out with do their level best to keep our decrepit reality intact – it helps when you buy the drinks – only let us be clear; we don’t really know ourselves – all we really have is the faint illusion – we have it all together; life that is.

My point is in this frenetic age of fast forward and full frontal; you never ever get a chance to connect with the deeper ‘I’ most the time, usually its invested somewhere in the broader and greater ‘we.’

I suspect the problem with our age isn’t so much that Singapore is getting crowded; as much as how many of us are really lost within ourselves – its getting so crowded in our own skulls with the lives of other people besides ours that somewhere in this madness – we seem to have lost ourselves – the “I” has given way to the broader “we” – we may even need to rediscover ourselves very much in a way a man in jungle moves forward by slashing away with a machete just to find some lost city.

I am not exactly the Dalai Lama, so this realization didn’t come after sitting on the sofa and meditating all day long. It dawned on me one fine day; when I just decided to jump into my 30 footer tub boat and take off for 2 weeks to the Comoros islands – actually, I was aiming to reach the Seychelles, but a strong southerly wind kept pummeling me; so somewhere between a ripped sail and a mast that seemed like it was going to snap like I twig; I decided not to tempt fate.

The curious thing about sailing alone is–  it’s a bit like shacking up with a woman that you just met; in the beginning you’re always sure fire certain everything is going to work out – I know myself, I am the master of my own destiny along with a fistful of crap – but after a few days of tossing around in the angry sea and trying to figure out whether your kidney hasn’t migrated to your knee caps, it rapidly dawns on you how feeble you actually are and if you were standing outside your own body looking at your miserable lot – you probably wouldn’t even trust yourself to carry the eggs back from the supermarket.

That really is how humbling an experience sailing alone can be – if, you run out of fuel and have to resort to renacting the final moments of the Titanic – it’s because you fucked up! – if you find yourself sailing around in big and small circles – you fucked up on your charts! It exasperating when you have no one to blame but yourself; but its also downright humbling and if its worked through properly upstairs, it can even be a very rewarding experience – getting to know yourself again.

As what you will eventually come around too (after about a week when you start to look like caveman and smell abit fruity) is the whole idea that you’re not so independent and dependant after all – usually it’s the little stuff that reminds you, there’s still some work to be done in some areas of your life; such as the smallness of one’s courage when you have go up one to one with a killer storm (I tell you that is no fucking joke when you come up against waves the size of Northpoint mall or something close to that) – along with minor conveniences such as forgetting to bring along the can opener; to how impatient you really are when a simple knot gets the better of you – but eventually everyone who has ever sailed alone will begin to make his peace with the deep foreboding sense of solitude and his shaky set of delusions of grandeur values – trust me; you can’t fight the sea day and night; its just too debilitating – ultimately the sea wins – she always does.

For starters; solitude presents us all with the opportunity to explore ourselves. It gives us a chance to regain our sense of scale and perspective that has been turned up side down by the world. It renews us by allowing us to see where our weaknesses really lie and how so much of what we once considered as our strength is closer to the imagination than fact– in short, sailing alone has to be very close to piano tuning for the soul; it’s a way of centering us back to that mythical line; so that we can all go out there and reclaim everything that the world has leached away from us – our humanity, compassion and sense of well being – to finally make us whole again – happy sailing.

Darkness 2009

Island Cruise 2009

February 21, 2009

As some of you know; every year, we try our very best to arrange an informal meet with our readership – the purpose is to touch base and get to know some of you.

This year, Singaporedaddy has kindly loaned us his yatch for an island cruise. We may not be able to fit everyone onboard, but we will certainly try to make as many runs as possible.

We will make a few stops as we did last year, but this time, we will try to arrange a makan; one of them is a kelong owned by a good friend of mine, William;  where I hope some of you can try your luck at open water fishing. So bring your sun hats along ladies along with plenty of block; we’re going sailing.

We will stagger the trips throughout a four week period to make sure; everyone gets an opportunity to take part / and I assure you all, the same cock up that happened last year will not be repeated again; where some readers couldnt be fitted in – these readers who missed our previously will get a ‘special’ this year ONLY please understand this is not due to the power of bitching; but because we feel very strongly; you should all give us a chance to make up for the shortfall (it is regrettable that some of you have not only decided to boycott me and but have even organized yourself into resistant cells; may I just say this, that I will do everything in my power to make good on many of my unfulfilled promises and many of you should consider giving me another chance as I am trying very hard to rehabilitate myself to be a good and kind person – what you say?) – I have all your names and we will even arrange for a mid ocean night fire works tour along with a moonlight cruise; those who personally sent death threats to me may also be persuaded to join me for sotong fishing which can only be done at night /  my feel is in this challenging times this remains a good way to keep the bonds and ties strong – we may not be able to keep it together for the whole world or country, but I believe very strongly, if we keep our own community tight and strong – things will hopefully sort themselves out.

As for our new readers; I don’t know how to fit them in yet; many of them don’t know know where they stand with us – my advice is hang in there; this isn’t your fault; its ours and its something we really have to sort out.

My sincere hope is some of you will take this opportunity to get to know all of us better – remember, you’re always in control – and when you’re in comfortable everything is possible and nothing is impossible including stepping forward – it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Darkness 2009

(Postings on specific launch dates will be posted in Ekunaba and SLF 1 to 7 )

New Beginnings

February 21, 2009

 

I think I would be a much more centered person if I didn’t take myself so seriously – that was what my friend Audrey once said to me. Audrey is a neuro-surgeon – I met her some 6 years back ago when I hit my head real hard. Since then we’ve been great friends – it was only in passing, but those words somehow stuck to me through these years – yes, its would be nice, if I could just regard myself as a baby from time to time; everyone knows what’s best for baby; no one bothers to ask baby when or what he wants to eat or whether he’s had enough; they just seem to know; that’s just how it is when one learns not to take oneself too seriously – everything just falls beautifully into place; there is no need to jostle for rights or to rush up the moat to save people and planet – all those things suddenly dont seem very important when one views the world from the end of milk bottles where everything just warps around so very nicely – if we all considered ourselves as babies; for one we may be less inclined to invest ourselves into the things which make up our known universe; we would be less likely to believe the world centers around us; be it relationships; work and even competitive play; that has to be good – no one expects baby to win and everyone knows baby doesn’t mind losing either; they seem to be only people on this planet that can face defeat and success with such grace – babies are so centered; they’ve probably got it all figured out from the word go, that’s why they never ever worry or fret over things which usually preoccupy most of us day and night; maybe I am going in the wrong direction – maybe the goal in life is to go the other way?

 

Yes, we should all strive for babyhood, not brotherhood, I think.  

 

Then perhaps when we open our eyes we will really begin to see; and when we hear; we will really listen – to beauty that is, that’s always been there all this while – that only babies seem to be able to see and smile at.

 

Darkness 2009

423290059_ee0548f77e_mI know this may come across as a trifle hared; but 2008 was a very good year – not only did I manage to triple my stock portfolio; I even managed to ace the S & P with a few times to spare – for the better part of 2008, it flowed sweet and clear.

 

Most of my friends are duly impressed that I got out of the stock market just before it took a swan dive; that seems to be the main topic of conversation whenever we met together for drinks – “that’s the man who went the other way; when the whole world headed South” – “he’s got all the cool moves all lined up.” Yes, I admit, I am vain and I don’t even mind keeping silent about it as it seems to serve them pointing to a myth.

 

Only I need to be perfectly frank and honest about it; cutting the right moves has nothing to do with skill and everything to do with intuition – that’s to say when I pour out the marbles on a table and begin to separate the good from the bad; I cant even tell you for certain how I managed to make all the right moves. A big part of me tells me; it may not even be a conscious decision – so there you have it, the truth.

 

Truth is I am capable of selling myself on just any point that takes my fancy and it doesn’t even have to make sense either – its not realistic to believe every decision I make has to be based on something monumentally logical and sound, usually it isn’t – I once dropped everything; boarded a plane and traveled half way across a world because a woman who I cared for once told me she was on the verge of dying; and when we met I realized she had lied, as all she really wanted was to see me; I didn’t even get angry all I could think about when I saw her was how good I felt about seeing her again and it was much latter than the brain and the heart kicked in; when I began to serious wonder whether I would still have a job when I returned to Singapore – my point is it felt too right to claim a wrong and sometimes it pays to go with the gut rather than the mind.

 

I guess, what I am trying to say is its not always true to say the best decisions are those made under cool and rational judgement – that may be true in some cases, but it doesn’t hold true all the time. For me the part that I struggle constantly with; is when do I let go and when do I pick up the slack by going with the mind?  

 

To be honest with you; I dont know and there is a very good reason for that – I dont really trust myself and I’ve made plenty of decisions which I have simply regretted no end. Enough probably to sink a few battleships ten times over. 

 

Yet on the otherhand, I’ve also aced it in ways which still continues to marvel me no end. 

 

If I had to pin it down to a nub; I will ONLY go with something because it feels right; like when I decided to pull out the stock market sometime back in the middle of last year – it felt just right then, despite my own broker giving me sidelong looks of “well, I don’t know….”

 

I realized some people may keep telling you; this economic crisis was unforeseeable and if you press them, they could probably come up with 10 bullet points why getting it wrong isn’t so wrong after all – I don’t agree with that take as its misleading.

 

That may be true if all live offers is one side of the coin but many people have also managed to came out from this crisis smelling sweeter than when they jumped in – not everyone made losses – many doubled and tripled and even quadrupled their portfolios – only I think what really separated the losers from the winners this time wasn’t intelligence or raw skill; but rather something so common and basic that it may even be something that you don’t even need to go to Harvard or Princeton to acquire – trust your gut feel.

 

And they say there are only lies and disinformation online – well this time, it all came out sweet and clear.

 

Thanks, the internet for saving my chops – again! Owe you a big one there Mr Internet.

 

Darkness 2009

Serendipity – Real Film

February 21, 2009

 

I still shoot in film – I know, it sounds awfully old fashioned; but I haven’t been able to make the transition to digital despite repeated attempts, something about relegating it all to a microchip riles me no end. I am stubborn, possessive and incorrigble.

 

I am a control freak. Nothing is more satisfying that loading real film into the sprockets and feeling the forward glide as I crank it to level it for the next shot; I guess, if I had to pin in down to one word; it simply has to be serendipity; yes the idea that one can never really be sure till one gets the prints processed; that I feel is missing from modern photography; the slow burn that is – the sense of expectancy even. But as I said, I am awfully old fashioned.

 

These are just some things that I find incredibly hard to let go.

 

This goes out to Audrey and her love for Nikon’s (we shared many afternoon’s in Paris together), reader No. 1490 of the brotherhood press – I think about her a lot about these days.

 

The clip, I have attached is from a good friend of mine, a kendo buddy who I just know as Hiroshi – need I say, he shoots in film as well – and need I tell you why?

 

Good night Audrey and Hiroshi

 

Darkness 2009

Joy 2

February 20, 2009

Auto Gen referral / Did you miss out on this?: The Incredible Koreans

You know what? I actually believe we should all be kind and show compassion to the board of Temasek, GIC and the entire 1st division dream team; we should all consider an internet fund raiser and get them a lifetime supply of brain balm to soothe away their pain – no one deserves to suffer without relief, I mean no one.

Let’s all try to be kind.

Darkness 2009

Are you an avid love story reader of the brotherhood press love story division? – Then don’t miss out on this: The Incredible Koreans

The Power of Jazz

February 19, 2009

This has to be a mini skirt post. As some of you know, I happen to play the acoustic guitar (not very well, strictly for fun only) – now, one thing that I really like about jazz, unlike the classical repetoire (if you want know more abt that go ask the owner of this site, Dotty, she happens to be a concert violinist) where one is restricted to just reproducing a set piece; there’s always  a lot of room for improvisation and experimentation  in jazz and it really depends who you are jamming with – get the right crew and you’re smoking; get it wrong and you’re just making noise. That’s really the long and short of it.

This is one of my favorite pieces by Casiopea;  the lead guitarist is Yoshihiro Naruse, but what I really like about this piece is how the pianist edges him on and if you listen carefully, there’s a charming gun fight going on between the pianist and the guitarist;  a case of what you can do, I can do better, that’s why, this stands out as one of their most memorable pieces that they have not been able to reproduce, not even when I went over to Montreux to watch them, it was nowhere near the verve and panache of this sitting – if you’re wondering why the tunes he’s belting it out has so much tonal range; wonder no more, its a super negra – super lux (to those who know, you know) – check out the mid range F crossover at 3.15, where he just changes the tempo and goes ballistics. 

Now this is what I think, he just got fed up with the pianist edging him and he just said, “fuck it, I am going to split her in two” and he even manages to pull it off leaving the pianist in the dust / its simply sublime and a must hear-  I’ve never ever seen it go off the scales that way before  – NEVER! (not with F minor cross over, never! You’ve got to have 6 fingers to even do that, but he managed to pull it off admirably pay close attention to the rapid cross over at 3.25, came off clean and sweet); the only person who I know that can do that sort of )- 60 in zero is Jimmy Hendricks and he’s dead – once in a lifetime – enjoy.

Darkness 2009