Thursday, December 27, 2007
I'm also learning more new drills, for which I'm very thankful. Lately, my attacks and defenses seem very much the variations of the same theme - long frontale, yield-to-counter, grab if they come close. Doing 5th drill and 1st drill for the first time opened my eyes to the possibility of strato deflects and pushes, along with fenestra "oh-shit" defenses.
I'm also very thankful for the fact that I'm alive and unhurt after a two-foot piece of steel hurtled past me. No further details needed.
I'm also glad for having spent time with my loved ones, friends and drinking buddies, ate like a pig, and for SAF's E-Mart purchases that comes with home delivery, so I don't have to skulk around Clementi Camp for the shit I need.
All in all, a wonderful and fruitful holiday season. I hope you've had the same.
Monday, December 24, 2007
Thursday, December 13, 2007
My current complaints? A whole host. I feel like I know what the issues are but I haven't the faintest clue about how to get around them. I'll list them down - if anyone has any ideas from their own experience with martial arts and competitive sports, I'm very willing to listen.
- I'm suffering from a power blockage at the hip area, where my leg joint connects to my hip bone. What I mean by "power blockage" is that when I rotate my hips, I am unable to transfer the power from my hips to my upper body smoothly. The end result is that I end up very reliant on shoulder and upper body strength. It gets me to a point, but I'm feeling the inadequacies of this technique already. I think this is a result of my extreme lack of flexibility but I'm not sure.
- My footwork needs work. I tend to step from the heel rather than stepping from the balls of my feet. It's gotten slightly better but I'm still by no means consistent with that.
- I can't help but to think I'm picking up bad form from stress training. I'm not sure what basis I have for this statement, but I feel it happening when I do drills - I tend to want to punch a guys face in rather than concentrate on what works for the drill. In short, I've not made the transition from connecting "executing proper form" to "winning" yet.
- I tend to hunch my shoulders and lean forward to get those extra 2-3 inches of range, but at the cost of being able to balance well. It's a bad habit and I'm looking to break it because of the strain it causes my lower back and shoulders, not to mention wrecking havoc with my form. I think that it's a combination of breaking in new armour and my brain cross-firing saber and longsword techniques.
- There's a point I get to where I'm VERY unwilling to go faster. I -think- I can go faster but I've never tried going faster. The reason for this is that I associate speed with losing control, and losing control with injuries. I'm deathly afraid of causing someone else injuries. This has related issues as well - I freak out mentally whenever I train techniques I -know- are meant to injure or kill, like drawing the sword across a human body. I'm not sure how I can get around that, or if it's just an issue of desensitization.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
- the quality of being suitable, useful or convenient
- anything that makes for an easier life
- a convenient time, especially in the phrase at one's convenience
- (mostly UK) a public toilet
A conversation later in the week spun forth additional vectors of thought that I now seek to bind into runes. Context is everything in my craft, but I fear I may only present part-context in this case. Suffice it to say, the word of the day is in the context of romantic relationships.
For a word that is of fairly common usage, I find it damnably difficult to bind the various vectors in my thoughts into a useable form. The problem I face is that convenience is itself a mutable concept.
Would one enter into a relationship of convenience? The intuitive answer is both no and yes - "no" because no one wants to be the object of convenience, "yes" because, well, what else is a relationship but a coincidence of the right emotions, at the right place and time?
On further probing, I realise that the problem is not that the vectors cannot be bound, but just that the vectors are individual. I can abstract to the point where all individual concepts containing convenience can be bound, but in doing so, I bind a lot of non-related concepts alongside it. I can bind the vectors I am aware of individual, but that rune would only function for myself.
In short, I can bind them, but to do so would not be convenient.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
I lunched today with some old friends, Alchemist, Morningblade and Strider. I've lunched with them individually over the course of the year I was back, of course, but it's literally been decades since I've lunched with all of them at once.
Lunch conversation was surprisingly light on reminiscing, given that this was the group I've learnt virtually all of my knowledge of the mystical arts from. As Alchemist puts it, individually, we are already quite scary, but we also taught tricks to one another.
Among us, Alchemist is the master transmuter. He is entirely gifted in most forms of the Craft, but chief among his gifts are divination, synthesis and transformation. His skill in the transformation of other people's gifts to unexpected forms and functions is especially noteworthy.
Morningblade is a master enchanter. His skills lie in the art of beguilement, deception, illusion and truth. It sounds entirely contradictory until one understands that only through the mastery of truth for truth's sake can one start mastering his art. Like me, he too is a swordsman. Though I've often criticised his chosen sword form for the lack of dimension, the fact remains that he was once my teacher in the arts of the blade.
Strider, my brother, is a master nullifier and numeromancer. His art is to find truth through complex linear forms. Through such forms he is also able to resist, nullify, and curiously enough, enable through the nullification of nullification. Though we are blood, the directions our Craft has taken is completely different. Strider possesses the most curious ability to work his Craft without noise or motion, something I've never been able to master.
I am the master evoker and runesmith. My truth is intuitive, direct and often without form, and needs to be bound with the use of symbols. The effects of my truth often deal in extreme high or low energy states in geometric (not necessarily Euclidian) shapes. Mine is the power to impart, alter or cease motion vectors.
Four forms, but always one truth. How I missed them.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Unlike the pages of a storybook, life isn't sorted into neat little bundles of narrative, where events happen sequentially. Unlike prose, there is no discernible main plot and subplot to life, no protagonists, no antagonists, no foreshadowing, no metaphor beyond what the interpreter of life chooses to impose.
Where does that leave Pan Narren's, the storytelling ape?
I'm glad my friend has sorted out his issues. It's been such a long time. To be frank, I don't even miss the money anymore, because I've long since given up hope on it. I'm just glad that he's sorted himself out.
I wonder now, as I've wondered a lot in the past year, whether the money would have honestly made a difference. I don't know, but the speculation drives me fretful. I still wonder to this day, if I was able to make a difference, would I have made that different choice? Would I have avoided the pain, knowing that doing so I would give up the wonderful life I have now?
Life isn't a narrative. I can't flip the pages back, because I don't have any pages to flip back. I can't look forward and skip to the ending. All I can do is to live my life as best as I can.
In that sense at least, perhaps I can "close" this "chapter" with some dignity. Best wishes, old friend, and know that you mean a lot to me still.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Thursday, November 15, 2007
I think I've been reading too many "Freakonomics" and "The Undercover Economist" type books recently. The latest in the series is "More Sex is Better Sex" where the author proposes certain improvements to our justice system. In the appendix of the book, he notes that David Friedman makes an even more radical proposal - that there should be many competing "microsystems" of justice as possible, with individuals subscribing to whichever justice system they prefer.
I say we go one step further.
If economic prosperity, minister performance and politics are so intertwined, I say we go the whole hog and allow a plutocracy in the truest sense of the word. Some points are:
- Everyone casts a DOLLAR vote for the candidate they want in power. Top 84 nominees takes all.
- All monies will be paid to a central depository. Electors can deposit cash any time they wish. Elections are triggered whenever the pot hits 10 million, and electors have 1 month where they can deposit monies from the day the pot hits 10 million.
- The winners of the vote has to fork out the cash. This cash goes to the people who have voted, equal to the amount they were willing to fork out.
- The excess in the pot goes to the lowest, I dunno, 10th percentile in terms of income.
- NONE of the money involved in this transaction will be taxable. Ever.
- MP's and Ministers get no cash pay. Instead, they get a basket of properties reflecting the overall economic prosperity of the country.
- Anyone becoming an MP and Minister must disclose all financial interests for the period they remain as MP's.
To maintain power, one must always be leeched of money to the lowest 10%, which will eventually accumulate enough to vote credibly as a collective body. Furthermore, to maintain power, one cannot just please the ultra-rich, cos a sufficiently big pool of middle class people will be sufficient to trigger an election.
The idea here is that you don't derive ANY benefit from being in government apart from your ability to make the economy grow. In short, you -will- be putting your money where your mouth is. If you can make the economy grow bigger than the money you've forked out, congrats - you've enriched yourself and everyone else in the process. If you can't, someone else will raise the 10 mil and overthrow you.
So, what do you think?
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
This is the latest iteration of my armour. I've dropped the coif, and added a gorget and spaulders to the mix. In addition, I'm now wearing knee cops (not shown in this picture), and will be adding elbow cops, a breastplate and possibly a helm, and my kit will be complete.
I've originally aimed for a Milanese style kit, but my kit is starting to look more Early Gothic Transitional, which is just as well.
The rest of the demo team has obtained upgrades too. Here my knee cops are visible.
Tome and I are still primary sparring partners, even in demos. Tome prefers staying at a distance while I prefer going up close and punching/grappling. It's still a toss up whose style will eventually dominate. Here, the ending is scripted - it casts no aspersions on Tome's ability as a fighter, the pesky dance-around-er. :)
The boys with some well-deserved R&R after the demo.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Greg: Okay, Tome and KC will be doing 2nd and 3rd drill, Page and Josh will be doing 4th and 5th drill. The rest of you will stand around and look pretty. I know it's hard, but try.
-cue cheering, the loudest from Chio-
Greg: Oh wait, Uncle Chio will be reserve for 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th drill.
Me: -turning to Chio- Well, I guess it's true then. Chainmail doesn't stop arrows.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
For the benefit of those of you who do not know who Ahmad Fairuz is, he is the Chief Justice of Malaysia. This tape allegedly reveals a top Malaysian lawyer, VK Lingham, brokering judicial appointments in the Malaysian Judiciary.
What makes this potentially more inflammatory is that the person who released this video is none other than Anwar Ibrahim, former Deputy Primer Minister and member of Justice Party (Kelidan). Here, he writes an heated critique of the Malaysian judiciary on the Wall Street Journal.
Former Lord President of the Federal Malaysian Courts (as the Chief Justice was then known) and the 9th Yang-di Pertuan Agong Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah has given a scathing critique of the Malaysian judiciary during the 14th Malaysian Bar Conference - an event poorly attended by Malaysian judges.
On September 26, 2007, 2000 Malaysian lawyers marched to the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya. Labelled the "Walk for Justice", their demands were clear - remove Ahmad Fairuz as Chief Justice.
Today, the New Straits Times has reported that Chief Justice Ahmad Fairuz' term has lapsed, and it is unclear at to whether his term has been renewed by the Yang di Pertuan Agong.
The reason I write about this is threefold.
The first is to give recognition to the forces of globalisation - what happens to our nearest neighbour will undoubtably affect us. I have am dealing with a number of pending cases in Malaysia myself and news like this shakes my confidence that these matters will be handled fairly.
The second is a follow-on from the 377A fallout. While I am deeply disappointed with the failed attempt to repeal 377A, I am at least glad that there is some indication of listening in the Singapore government - much more so than the lack of response regarding the alleged corruption of the Chief Justice of Malaysia. In retrospect I suspect things could be a lot lot worse in Singapore, and for that, I am grateful.
The third is a cautionary tale concerning mixing religion with politics and justice. The former Chief Justice Abdul Fairuz is one of the judges rejecting Lina Joy's appeal to convert from Islam to Christianity. I note with a sense of irony the obvious parallels between this and 377A. To me, sauce for the gander is also sauce for the goose. What of the right to use a condom? How far away are we truly from echoing Lina Joy ruling?
As a final word - I'd prefer for this post not to be seen as a post in support of the failed 377A repeal, but of a timeline for a series of events that is happening very close to our shores. I intend for this post to raise more questions than answers, to discomfort more than to soothe. I see this as the only way we will learn to ask difficult questions about ourselves and state of affairs.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Roy: More than anything.
Retrospective is a trick of perspective. I've made mistakes. Some of them still haunt me today, taking me by surprise in unexpected moments. Caught in these recollections, I cannot help but to look at my past with the perspective of who I am today; stronger, wiser, more mature.
Knowing this helps little. I view the past wondering what I should have done, could have done, but not realising that those events are the very ones that made me stronger, wiser and more mature.
I believe in the afterlife. Having made the mistakes I have, I am unsure whether I will have an afterlife like Roy's despite having tried very hard. Nevertheless I get my choice of afterlife, the one I want is Roy's.
An afterlife where all will be forgiven.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Do you take the road of safety? Or once more head down the path of peril?
I know my answer already.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Moral lessons from a comic book with stick figures. Wow.
Friday, October 05, 2007
I'm, of course, talking about ABBA. Yes, I'm a closet ABBA fan.
Tome sent this to me. This is incredible shit - Frida from ABBA and The Real Group, a Swedish acapella group, performing "Dancing Queen".
Monday, October 01, 2007
Systema is a Russian martial art, often advertised as the martial art used by the Spetsnaz. I personally think that the association with special forces is highly misleading. Contrary to expectations, it's probably closer to chinese internal styles than the hard styles I'd expect from being a special forces martial art.
The interesting thing about Systema is not the art (though the art is fascinating in itself) but the pedagology behind it - it literally trains you to learn about yourself and what works for you.
One of the central tenets to Systema is the concept of space. Everyone literally has a "bubble" of comfort around them. Learning where this "bubble" starts determines the style that is best for you. Some people might be more comfortable infighting - the comfort level dictates therefore that grapples and locks would be your primary arsenal. Some people might have a comfort zone far out from their bodies - their fighting style would involve a lot more strikes.
By sheer serendipity, my boss was talking about the book "Now: Discover your strengths" and the philosophy of working to people's strengths, instead of working to compensate for weaknesses. Part of this exercise involves finding out what your "space" is too - then developing around this.
One of my personal objectives for learning martial arts is as a form of integrated learning. My sentiment is that my own personal growth has often been obstructed by my lack of understanding physical systems - and what better physical system to study other than your own body.
I'm somewhat pleasantly surprised to find out how much I'm actually managing to integrate the lessons of martial arts into real life and vice versa. Martial arts is turning out to be a much more involved learning experience than I thought.
More thoughts on this in a while. I promise.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Elite Beat Agents is the Nintendo DS Lite version of Dance Dance Revolution. They give you a song, and make you tap the beat out in a stylus. The storyline (if you can call it one) is that you're an agent that uses the music to inspire people in need. For most part, the scenarios they give in Elite Beat Agents is kinda kooky - there's a particularly hilarious one where the scenario is an obvious parody of Paris and Nicole stranded on a deserted island.
There is one in particular that stands out, and here it is.
I is a beeg sucker for sob stories. I was practically swearing by the end of the intro to complete this scenario no matter what.
I finished it in 15 minutes of course, so I thought I'd share it with you guys. The video is obviously not me, but something I found on youtube.
Monday, September 17, 2007
....when you realise that you are the only one who realises that there are many worlds, but only one true world. That others would rather be honest to you than honest to themselves. That what they say is entirely truthful, but dishonest because they are incapable of being honest with themselves.
I am constantly amazed by the capacity by which people are capable of deceiving themselves, and am utterly helpless in the face of such deceit.
What do you do then? Deny or accept? Be sad in your honesty or happy in a lie?
I only wish I knew.
Friday, September 14, 2007
Thursday, September 13, 2007
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
- Blinkymummy is a friend's cousin, and I know another cousin from my debating days.
- I may have gone to school with Tym's brother, but I'm not sure.
- Shyue Chou knows one of my AC Drama juniors.
- Shianux knows another of my AC Drama juniors.
- A lawyer I've used in a recent case is a 2nd degree contact, friend of an old JC buddy.
- Willie and a JC friend were neighbours in England.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Sunday was a set of fairly casual training. I think Chris figured that a lot of us were starting to burn out and set us on singlestick training instead. For the uninitiated, singlestick is essentially a stick shaped like a rapier. I think it's the transition point between actual duelling and modern sport fencing but I could be wrong.
After some basic footwork and working on some basic "protects", Chris set the senior class off to do some sparring on their own. There were only three takers, Tome, Andy and myself.
Andy and I squared off first. By that time, I was still in a "play-play" mood, thinking we'd get a few rounds of warm up practise before going at it in earnest. I took a solid shot to the ribs to pay for it. I patiently squared off against Andy for a couple more rounds before realising that he was swinging with force, and quite wildly at that. Standing almost a foot taller than I am, Andy was clearly bouting to win through his physical dominance.
I was getting increasingly irate at Andy's swings, which left welts on both my hands and my body - many of them in an exchange of hits. Increasingly, as the bout went on, I started scoring more and more hits against Andy without getting touched myself. I did this by advancing slowly and determinedly against him. I'm sure he must have sensed whatever emotion I was radiating at that point because his attacks to my advance became more panicked.
I still lost the bout, but I closed the margin toward the end.
I am surprised. I had always treated combat, even mock combat, as something to be feared and respected. I don't like battle or combat. Part of the reason I'm learning swordfighting is to get me over my fear of combat. This time was different. I got the distinct impression that Andy was bullying, albeit subconsciously, and I just refused to stand for it.
Maybe there's a fighter in me somewhere after all.
Here are some of the photos.
Our growing Compagnia Della Spada
Tome and I in 3rd Drill
My sword makes contact with Tome's, deflecting it.
Greg demonstrating the right way to get through armour
We are grateful to Caesars for the opportunity to demonstrate our craft.
Friday, September 07, 2007
I've been thinking about my newfound insights into Fiore. Tome and Ken have their own insights about the seminar - I will not repeat them here, but I agree with them. I will add that I am thinking more about their perspectives as well as my own.
Fiore (the swordmaster whose work we are studying) talks about "Sentimento de Ferro" or the "Feeling of Steel". When a sword contacts another sword, there is a feeling, a pressure acting against the sword you wield. Often, this feeling guides you on what to do next. An attempted bind on a sword, for example, feels very different from an attempted beat, and the counters are different. True, your sight and knowledge of attack lines will guide you, but too often, we neglect to hear the voice of our own sword telling us what needs to be done.
At the risk of sounding sentimental, I will add one extra dimension to it - true, the sword has a voice telling us what to do, but as swordsmen, we must also learn to listen. Too often, I have scripted plans of attack and defense in my head based on what I -think- the opponent is going to do. VERY often, these scripts fail and leave me in a world of pain. Only when I stop scripting, and start feeling, do I get a sense of what needs to be done, and do it.
In short, I am learning to listen, and not voice.
How human a failing is that - to superimpose our own voices over the voice that already tells us what we need to know.
Quite by accident, I stumbled across the Wikipedia entry to "Man of La Mancha". This is essentially a musical adaptation of Cervantes' "Don Quixote", a washed-out fifty year old who has read one too many novels on chivalry and believes himself a great knight. I believe the opening act is familiar to all - Don Quixote charges at a windmill, believing it a four-armed giant and promptly collides into it.
The power of the Don Quixote myth, however, is exactly his delusion. Failing to defeat the four-armed giant, he goes on quest after quest to ensure that he is not defeated again. In the course of the story, he is confronted by a doctor who attempts to cure him and succeed - by showing him in a mirror exactly how the world sees him, a washed-out old man. The climax is where a barmaid, wooed by Don Quixote and treated as a lady, begs Don Quixote to return to his delusions, because she cannot stand being a barmaid.
Too often, we make the achievement of a dream the paramount concern. We build scripts and plans over these dreams. Too often, we think that by our hand we will achieve these dreams.
Too often we charge at windmills thinking they are four-armed giants. Too often, after we collide, we see ourselves as we truly are - washed-out fifty year old men, and then crawl off somewhere to die with dignity.
What happens to that voice then?
Cervantes already has the answer - Don Quixote awakens at the climax back to his delusions and remembers his barmaid, who he has always mistakenly called Dulcinea, fights off men he thinks are threatening her, and dies of the fever he has developed. The barmaid henceforth refuses to be addressed by any other name.
The importance of the Don Quixote legend that he's always listened to the voice in his heart, and in doing so, paves the way for others to hear the voices in their hearts.
Like "Sentimento de Ferro", it takes a lifetime to learn to hear the voice. More accurately, it takes a lifetime to unlearn the hearing of other people's voices, and do what you've always known to be right.
Like Don Quixote, the important fact is not achieving the dream, but having the dream, and when that dream fails, having another one.
To every man his Dulcinea.
Monday, September 03, 2007
The reason for this can be summed up into two words: Ilkka Hartikainen. That's the name of the Finnish instructor that I've been training under for the past week. He's from our sister school, SESH, up in Finland.
At 24, Ilkka probably knows more about swordplay, body mechanics and unarmed combat than any 10 average blokes off the street. Watching him in action, I can understand why knights and men-at-arms were such terrors on the battlefield.
I deeply appreciate Ilkka's attempt to teach us even the basics of his lifetime passion. In a week, I probably forgot more than I learnt in 6 months of regular training. This is casting no aspersions to Greg and Chris, who are wonderful instructors. It's just the sheer volume of what we had to go through that made the experience...unique.
Being able to see the entire system in action and not just bits and pieces that I picked up has helped me immensely, even if I don't grasp the full importance of it all. For one, I can stop thinking about the system in terms of individual tricks and start thinking of it as a system. That is worth more than any move or set of moves I can learn from this week.
By the end of spending 22 hours last week training with Ilkka, I was seriously ready to collapse. I don't think I've ever felt this tired since BMT. At least in BMT, I don't have to worry about being conscious for work the next day.
There was an evaluation and grading at the end of it. It was our regular grading, except it wasn't. I was so tired I was practically going on auto-pilot. The results of it weren't horrible, but I know that if I were actually focused, I'd have done some of the things much better. I still passed and I think I deserved that pass more than any other evaluations I did, even if I did a worse job.
And as promised, here's the keen picture of me in my coif, as well as 7 other keen looking guys. The Compagnia grows!
Friday, August 31, 2007
The last leg of the Heroes World Tour in Asia was Singapore. I discovered this as I was walking through VivoCity, a stone's throw away from where I work.
This was an opportunity too good to miss. I took a half day leave, and I wasn't disappointed.
The event started with the two MC's trying to lather up the crowd. I think they were Star World VJ's or something. I certainly didn't recognise them.
Whashisname and Whashername - MC's for the event
More Pictures of Whashisname and Whashername
The first event of the day was a contest to imitate the infamous Hiro Nakamura scene where he teleports to New York. Of the four contestants, one didn't even know the scene and one claimed to have a sore throat. I was flabberghasted. Needless to say, the crowd wasn't too pleased.
Hapless contestants - Contest to shout "Yatta!"
This was followed by a random question and answer session. Standing on the 2nd floor I was unable to show off my |337 fanboi trivia skills. The questions weren't too hard though.
After a long while of waiting, some of the enthusiasm died down. The VJ's dilligently tried to generate interest but it was clear that the crowd was flagging.
Then, not a moment too soon, the Heroes cast walked in with security in tow.
First Glimpse of Ali Larter
The crowd went absolutely bananas. I think they must have cheered a good 5 minutes before the MC's could get a word in edgewise.
Ali Larter waving and Greg Grumberg hamming it up
This first thing I recall thinking as Ali Larter strode up was "Damn she's hot!". The second thing I recall thinking was "She looks taller in the show." Ali Larter spoke with a distinct Valley Girl accent.
Greg Grumberg was a suprise. He completely hammed it up for the crowd, was incredibly charming and energetic, and even spoke a few words in Singlish!
Sendhill Ramamurthy and Masi Oka addressing the crowd
The big suprise for me was how well the cast seemed to be taking their newfound (in some cases, refound) fame - Masi Oka especially. He seemed almost shy from all the attention. Sendhill Ramamurthy was nervous, I think. I couldn't hear a single word he was saying.
Greg Grumberg and Masi Oka rapping - Damn cool!
I've heard for a while that Masi Oka does beat-boxing - or the art of providing a beat acapella to a rap. Greg and Masi did a small rap of appreciation for Singapore.
I was a little disappointed though. The MC's promised some news about the 2nd season, but the much-hyped 2nd season rumours, however, weren't anything more that "It's gonna be awesome".
No biggie. Kudos to the Heroes cast for being such sports!
Bonus: Placards seen at Heroes World Tour 2007
"Marry me Mohinder!"
"Yatta! (Corresponding hiragana on reverse)"
"I heart Sexy Geneticists!"
"Whip me Jessica!"
"Read my mind, Parkman!"
"Sylar stole my power or I'd be famous too!" (my personal fave)
Monday, August 27, 2007
The weekend started with me rushing down to CCK for open session. I was particularly looking forward to training that day because of one of the seniors from Finland, Ilkka, was taking training that day.
Unfortunately for me, I had consumed an excess of cheese in the afternoon. Yes, I was stupid. My lack of tolerance for cheese is pretty well-documented, but I did not notice the slather of cheese cunningly concealed between two medium rare beef patties. Worse, it was blue cheese (who the heck uses blue cheese in a burger?!). End result: I spent most of the night retching away.
After training, and -ahem- purging whatever I could, we went for drinks. Ilkka, Greg, Aaron and I spent till wee hours of the morning chatting about stuff. I told Ilkka and Greg about my fear of fighting and getting hit. To my surprise, Greg understood exactly where I was coming from. I feel a lot better at having 'fessed up to it (more about this aspect in future, I promise). Ilkka suggests a way where I can get over my psychological fear of getting hit that he will try next weekend. I can't wait.
Saturday was my birfday. There was cake, food, friends, food, a Shogun game and more food. Finally got to hang out with Ed, Miche and Erik. It was cool.
Sunday saw me heading down to Greg's to pick him and Ilkka up for classes. Sounds like I missed a wonderful time on Saturday, since I was having my own wonderful time. At class, I got a chance to work on some of the things Ilkka was talking about. It worked better than expected. I think Greg was suprised at one point that I could actually deliver a hit from so far off.
Ilkka's abrazare training was really cool too. I'm constantly amazed by how little strength actually matters in wrestling. Every time Ilkka demonstrated a move, I felt like there was absolutely nothing I could have done. He practically flowed from one position to the next. It was awesome and inspiring.
It was fantastic. I'm aching and bruised all over and I can't wait to go for more aches and bruises tonight.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Yesterday marks one of the best sessions I've had in a long, long while. I scored a couple of decent hits on Greg and while my swordplay was still sloppy and far from competent, I am beginning to stop anticipating how things would go and try to react to certain attacks, defenses and the such. A small but significant improvement from previous sessions of getting whacked senseless.
I will make no bones about it. I know that my recent decisions have hurt someone I care very much about. I also know it's the right decision. The strain I've been labouring under for a long time is gone. It shows. I am sad, angry, depressed and my heart is aching, but my mind is clear and filled with purpose again.
Tome says I'm becoming predictable. Perhaps I am. Perhaps I am just developing my own style. Feints are not my style. Positioning beyond what is necessary to get a decent strike in is beyond me at this point. My sword and wrist work is credible but not fantastic. My greatest strength is currently close-in, in-your-face combat, where I can bring my (relative) power and stability to bear.
I know I have a long way to go to address my weaknesses, but for the first time in a long while, I feel like I know where I am going.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
The pier is almost half a mile long. That day it felt longer. I walked to the end of the pier and paced around, waiting.
There was nothing left in my apartment. No TV. No furniture. Just a bunch of boxes and two large suitcases. Like my first day there, only in reverse. I couldn't bear sitting around in my apartment. It felt like death row. So I took my rental out and ended up at Berkeley Waterfront, my very first relaxation spot and easily my favourite.
I remember crying. I couldn't stop the tears. Some passers-by glanced at me, but I turned away. Every innocent glance looked accusatory to me. I couldn't face them. Not yet.
The fishermen caught a small shark. As they reeled it up, curious children gawked at it. A few of the braver ones approached. After a friendly warning by the fishermen about shark skin, a particularly courageous child poked a finger into the side of the shark. I smiled for a brief moment.
A few moments later, red light washed across the horizon. I looked up, and the moment I had been waiting for passed all too quickly. The sun set over a mountain up north.
I walked back to my rental and headed back to my apartment. I had a plane to catch the next day.
Monday, August 06, 2007
Friday, August 03, 2007
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Waitress: Okay, what would you like to drink?
Me: I'll just have the water.
Waitress: Oh, I'm sorry, we don't serve water here. How about mineral water?
Me: -slightly annoyed- Okay, I'll have an ice tea then.
Waitress: Oh, I'm sorry, we're out of fish for the fish and chips. Would you like to order something else?
Me: -incredibly annoyed- Oh really. Must be the lack of water here.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
- (UK, Australian English, New Zealand English, slang, pejorative) An idiot, a stupid, annoying or ineffectual person.
- (UK, Australian English, New Zealand English, slang, pejorative) Someone who shows off too much. Someone who is overly proud of himself.
Friday, July 20, 2007
You probably don't know who I am. You probably don't care. You probably stumbled upon this blog through a Google search, hoping that someone, anyone would be as miserable, nervous or irritable as you are feeling now.
I cannot offer that comfort. I took the bar exam last year. I understand the feeling though. I know that feeling well. For months, irritability and sadness were my constant companions. I, too, searched blogs to see if someone, anyone was as miserable as I was. I, too, clung on to Richard Sakai's words of comfort, his stories of people in such terrible positions that they could not possibly pass, but they did.
Today, I offer my own story for comfort.
Like many of you, the California Bar Exam represented hope for the future. I came to California hoping to find a job, and a life away from the stifling atmosphere of Singapore. The year before had been hard. I did well for my postgraduate course, but after a year of closed doors and rejection letters, I was nowhere closer to finding a job. So, yes, the Bar Exam I hoped would change things.
A month before the bar exam, the laptop I was going to use for the bar exam crashed. I was unable to recover anything from it. What's worse, I had been training, until that point, to take my exam on the computer. I lost a day too, trying to get the computer to work, but to no avail. I honestly thought I was going to go mad that day. I remembered resisting the urge to throw the traitorous computer against the wall.
I sucked it up. I started training to hand-write this exam. But even that wasn't the worst thing that happened.
A week later, my wife called me up from Singapore. She told me my marriage was over. I fought hard, trying to change her mind, to make her at least give me time until after my exam to work things through. She didn't. She was adamant. One week before the exam, I was so exhausted that I gave up. She conceded me a three-month hiatus, but even then, I knew things were over.
And just like that, my reason for working so hard for the Bar Exam was taken away.
I passed the Bar Exam. I took that sucker by the horns, and gave it my best shot, then went back to Singapore in tears. By the time I knew the results, the three month hiatus was over and I was facing an impending divorce. I guess I could have flown back to California to find a job, but then, what would be the point?
It is not my intention to make this sound like an "Against All Odds" story. Rather, this is a story about perspective. Right now, the Bar Exam may feel like the most important thing in the world to you. Passing it is the culmination of your dream to be a lawyer. Nothing else should matter, right?
You see, life has this funny way of throwing curve balls at you. You cannot possibly anticipate the million and one things that will happen to make your life miserable during the Bar Exam. The secret, the REAL secret that the Bar Exam doesn't want you to know about, is that these things don't matter.
Ultimately, your life after the results of the Bar Exam, pass or fail, is your own. You are the one living your life. Not the State Bar Examiners. Not Richard Sakai. You.
To this day, when people ask me what my finest hour is, I tell them it's taking the Bar Exam. It isn't because I passed. It's because I made it through alive. It made me realise the depths of endurance I had. It showed me that I had friends who cared about me. It made me realise I was loved.
The Bar Exam is no monster that thrives on corpses of failed students. It's no mirror reflecting your worst fears back on you. It's there, and it's not. It's you. Only you. You give it meaning. You make it the monster. You turn it into the mirror.
All you need to do is reach out your hand, and reach right through. Then go on living.
Best of Luck,
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Fast forward approximately 15 years.
I am walking in a shopping center near my workplace where who do I bump into but Christopher himself. He runs up a descending escalator to catch up with me, on the ascent, when he spots me.
It is the first time I've seen him in person in years. I've, of course, heard of his success with his book "Harvesting the seeds of prosperity". I've not read it myself, but from what I've read of the excerpts, I see very sensible advice.
I smile. We catch up. He reads this blog, which is a bit of a surprise and relief to me, since I didn't have to update him much on my life. I'm glad, because repeating my story is starting to get a little weary.
I've been catching his commentary on occasion on Mr Wang's blog and on Intelligent Singaporean. Christopher is an incisive as ever. There is something different about him though. He is appears more settled and less cutting. If it were two years younger, I'd say it was the marriage. (Congrats again by the way). I'd like to think I know better.
Perhaps it's a change of brain biochemistry at age 30. Maybe it's just life wearing away at rough edges. I remember a time when Christopher and I were hungry young men ready to take on the world. We have grown wise. We have figured out that no one achieves success. One merely prepares for it and has it settle on oneself like a mantle.
We exchange numbers. Chris makes me an interesting offer, and I smile, and indulge in it for a while. We promise to keep in touch.
Thank you Chris, for running up the escalator to meet an old familiar face.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
I must be getting paranoid. I read this on LMD's site and instead of being amused, as I normally am, I started wondering if I happened to be responsible for the "particularly slow and boring training session".
I started becoming particularly paranoid when I realised that I could be reading about a colleague's sexual habits. That would be wrong on so many levels.
Then I looked at the date of posting. It was Wednesday. I didn't conduct a training session on Wednesday. -phew-
Edit - Am back to being paranoid. LMD's post was at 00.22 Wednesday, which means she was referring to Tuesday afternoon. Ugh. Argh.
Friday, June 29, 2007
I've a friend that I've got a....peculiar relationship with. He's one of the most money-grubbing individuals I know, always out to make a buck. He's the kind of friend I'd shake hands with, then count if I'm missing fingers after. On my part, I often talk to him about gaming, business and ethics. I occasionally act as his prosthetic conscience, and try to give him my insight into the corporate world from my ivory tower.
Yet, somehow, through all the conflicting values, I never asked the most important question, "Why?"
Today I discovered why.
Turns out that his granny suffered a stroke 11 years ago. This was the granny who raised him, who loved him very much. He gives her eulogy tomorrow. He is using Gandalf's "White Shores" speech.
Today, I find out that his grandma's medical fees and care has been costing him a lot of money.
Today, I see my friend in a new light. And yet, somehow, not.
Rest well, G. My prayers are with you.
Monday, June 18, 2007
Aaron and Jeffery demonstrating 2nd Drill
Page and Seng Kian demonstrating 3rd Drill
Me and Josh Demonstrating 2nd Drill in armor. I'm the one getting manhandled.
Me and Josh Demonstrating 3rd Drill in armor. I'm the one getting manhandled.
Added: MyPaper has covered our free spar here. Emoboy at Gameaxis also mentions us in his blog post.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Left to Right - Tome, Greg, Me and Josh
....cordially invites you to the launch of....
Join us, the PHEMAS demo company, at Zouk on the 16th of June. We'll have a booth as well as a structured demo at 1430. There we will be demonstrating what we're about, and some of the training and drills we do. We're a pretty friendly bunch, so don't shy okay?
Just turn up and have fun. I hear Zouk's going to be open all day, and the entrance is going to be decorated as a Hill Giant! There will be people dressed up as characters in Granado Espada and for the daytime, at least, there will be no age limit.
As for me, this will be my virgin demo. I'm terribly excited - not the least for being able to indulge my geekiness in the center of one of the most happening clubs in Singapore!
If there are any questions, leave me a comment and I'll do what I can to answer them. Hope to see you these!
(Update: Apparently, we are the opening act as well!)
P.S - I've deliberately dated this post ahead of time to keep this post on the top of my blog until the date of the event. My other posts will appear below this in the interim, so scroll down for regular developments.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
My apologies in advance to my readers who don't speak Mandarin.One of the problems with not watching TV anymore is that you miss some incredibly good stuff...like this. I originally dismissed Project Superstar as an American Idol clone. I stand corrected - some of the singers here are seriously seriously talented.
It also helps that the particular song they performed is an all-time favourite of mine. I grew up on this song. It's one of those songs that I understand even better now that I've grown up a bit.
Short Translation of the Lyrics: Woman catches her (former?) lover with a new gal. She has two options - let them see her, or sneak away. The song essentially sings of her moment of indecision.
Time to go rip up my parent's CD collection on the off chance it is there.
Monday, June 11, 2007
Friday, June 08, 2007
- Former POTUS William Clinton, Harvard College Class Day '07
Thursday, June 07, 2007
"But resisting old age makes you old. It makes your losses serious. When you accept those losses, on the other hand, they become comic. You defeat old age by making friends with it. By letting it win. And you might as well, because it's going to anyway."
Gary Kamiya, "I'm younger than that now", Salon.com
It's been a year now. The question remains - "How do I cope?". The answer is, I didn't. There are days where I am inexplicably grief-stricken for no reason. There are nights where I relive that fateful day in California where everything came crashing down, except in my dreamscape, the scenarios mutate into a literal multitude of torments.
There is one thing to be said. The grief-stricken days are far fewer now. The nightmares trouble me far less.
I bring up Mr Kamiya's excellent article because it is relevant. Old age is the avatar of what we fear most - inevitable change. What do you do when Fate drives you away from where you want to be?
Healing is not in defiance, as I once thought. It is not in acceptance, nor rage. It does not force itself into your psyche, but descends upon you as a butterfly upon a flower. It cannot be forced, cannot be accepted, merely integrated.
The comedic attitude offers a kind of resignation, a calm surrender to the inevitable. And it's regenerative because it doesn't see change as the enemy. It's an invincible, self-fulfilling belief, one that bubbles up from somewhere unseen....This may seem like a superficial way to live, all "positive thinking" and blind optimism. But it isn't. Comic laughter emerges from the darkness. It isn't naive. It coexists with tragedy, but it cannot be defeated by it. It gets, literally, the last laugh. The man of comedy has experienced the pain of life, been staggered by its strangeness. He turns his staggering into a self-mocking dance. His laughter does not deny his losses. It is built on them."
- (emphasis mine)
Spot on. Quite a few of my new friends have already noted my razor tongue and sense of humor. Older friends will note that my laughter is no longer tinged with the same cutting edge it used to have.
I laugh the way I do now knowing I have lived through personal tragedies, I have paid the price for my dreams, and I will go on living my life. I don't celebrate my loss by displaying my scars, neither do I mourn the loss. Somehow, laughter becomes easier each day, just like how life goes on.
Endure, and eventually endurance will give. Defy, and eventually strength will go. Rage, and eventually your anger will burn out. Accept, and eventually, your pain will consume you. Surrender to it, for inevitable change is just that - inevitable.
Surrender enfolds your tragedy and transforms it. It allows you to laugh at what once made you cry, to look to the past with no bitterness, nor regret, nor nostalgia, to look to the future with no fear, anxiety, or sadness.
Time to keep on keeping on.
It's back! It's back! A 10 year wait and it's back! -dances for joy-It looks like Bethesda has gotten the atmosphere and mood of the games right. It's almost as if Bethesda created the teaser specifically to reassure Fallout fans that Fallout 3 will not be the abortion of the game that is Fallout: Brotherhood of Steel. -spits on Interplay-
The fact that it is rumoured to be FPS concerns me a little. However, I think the modern trend is to integrate good storytelling with kick-ass, in-your-face action. Gears of War is a good recent example of this. IF they integrate good character building mechanics (i.e: Perks) then I think they will have an awesome game on their hands, regardless of where they place the camera.
Tycho describes it best I think.
"Fallout is not - for me - defined by its perspective. It's defined by the unique setting, and the meaningful, satisfying choices I can make to affect that setting. I don't care where the camera is. If those things are intact, they can put the camera in geosynchronous Goddamn orbit. "
(Hat Tip to Penny Arcade.)
Monday, May 28, 2007
That's what Tome has taken to calling me. That padded coat I'm wearing is called a gamberson, and I've added a padded coif/arming cap to protect my noggin. The whole effect makes me look a little pong-pong and huggable.
Note to self: Full-speed drills are awesome, stress training is even more awesome, and slowly discovering yourself as a swordsman is just rocking.
Andrew J. Bacevich is an anti-war writer who writes for the Washington Post. I do not claim in-depth knowledge of his other articles, but this article struck me as being particularly poignant - he lost his son in a suicide bomb attack in Iraq.
That line above, especially, reminds me of the recently reported incidents, where 3 young men serving out their National Service lost their lives in a freak accident, and another paralysed from waist down is forced to live on $500 a month for the rest of his life.
I understand the need for National Service, even though I dislike it intensely. I can even understand the necessity of creating one-sized-fits-all policies to at least create the illusion of equality.
What I cannot accept is how easy it is to justify sacrifices in the name of a greater good when the person making the justifications is not the person making the sacrifice.
If defense is something everyone in the country benefits from, why does half the population escape it? Why create distinctions in practice for "white horses" where none exist on paper? What practical reason can there be?
If globalisation is something all Singaporean's benefit from, why does the benefits of globalisation fall mostly on the top 10th percentile while the bottom 10th percentile are trapped in poverty with even fewer opportunities for social mobility? Why is it so easy for Parliament to say "Here's your $290, too bad"?
If a relationship is something that both people benefit from, why do I see so many couples with one person bearing most of the burdens while another deriving most of the benefits?
Why do we do this to each other? Are we truly that monstrous?
Friday, May 25, 2007
I have my misgivings. What do they know about each other, beyond a few shared IM conversations and emails? What if they are only attracted to each other's online persona's? How do I know she's not a Glenn Close wannabe?
Then Perspective made her presence felt, and reminded me that even I didn't know the people I've been with for a long time. Do we truly know the people we love? Does it even matter that we don't? In the end, is it not hope and faith that drive the first steps to love?
With that, I prayed for someone else for the first time in a while.
Today, God sent me a reminder that unselfish prayers tend to get listened to a lot more.
Go get 'em, Tiger. :)
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
- Cary Tennis, from Salon.com, advising a mid-life crisis widow
Amen, brother, and thank you.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Bravo, Mr Kulongoski. I'd like to see our Ministers live on SG$290 a month, or take a bus to work for a week.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Sadugudu is a cross between tag, hantam-bolah (but without the bolah) and wrestling. Two teams will take sides of a field, with a middle line marking the border between the two fields. The object of the game is to tag opponents out. The teams will take turns to tag opponents out. A team on offense tags someone out by touching the person in question and making it across to his field.
There are three complications.
Firstly, the team on offense may only send one representative across the field. The minute he cross the field, he must chant "Sadu-Gudugudugudugudu.....". If he stops chanting this while on the other team's field, HE is tagged out.
Secondly, the team on defense MUST hold hands in a line until any person on their team is tagged. From there on, it's a free-for-all.
Lastly, I did mention this is a full-contact game right? The team on defense may grab, tackle, wrestle or pin the hapless team member on offense until he can't keep the chant up anymore.
Here's an excerpt of our game on Sunday.
Anthony starts on offense. He crosses the field with 6 defenders. He tries a few test swipes, without effect. Suddenly, he darts left touches Andy on the extreme left and sprints back. No tackles. Andy is eliminated.
Anthony's team is on defense. Alvin is the representative from the other side. As Alvin approaches, Anthony's team starts surrounding him. Alvin touches the 93 kg, 175cm Aaron and ducks under his outstretched linked arm. Aaron is not fooled. He collapses on Alvin. Alvin is brought down. Aaron resists the urge to smack Alvin's behind and yell "Who's your daddy?!"
Greg and Dawn are left on the other team. Josh is the representative for ours. He darts across, touches Greg. Greg grabs his shirt, slowing him down enough so he can't run away quickly enough. Greg then switches his lock, hoists Josh off his feet until Josh runs out of breath.
Greg is left alone, facing 3 members of our team - me, big Aaron and even-bigger Chris. Greg takes a while to compose himself. Greg takes his time, picks Aaron and runs across the field. Greg is brought down about half-way by Chris and Aaron. Chris clamps down on his upper body while Aaron clings on to one leg. Amazingly, Greg drags himself a good 3 meters despite being pinned and barely taps his home field with his hand. Aaron is eliminated.
If you think what we did was violent, take a look at this. This is Kabbadi, the official sport which was derived from Sadu-gudu.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
(slang) A person who deliberately or inadvertently prevents a man from seducing someone.
I wanted to take this girl to my room, but her roommate was being too much of a c**kblock.
The force of synchronicity bids Dawn writes about the declining standards of English teachers in Singapore while Zach writes about a radical new method of teaching English via visual formatting.
In an effort to address a potential space-time rupture, I add a hasty effort to improve my readers' vocabulary, on a subject close to my heart.
I only pray my efforts are enough.
Monday, May 07, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I cannot do better than to point my readerst to this post.
"I remember a story told by a friend during the plague years. He was visiting a dying friend in hospital and a couple of beds down the ward from his friend, the curtains were drawn around a patient. From behind the curtains, he could hear a man softly singing a show-tune. "Well, at least that guy's keeping his spirits up," my friend remarked. "Actually," his dying friend replied, "the man in that bed died this morning and was taken away by his family. That's his boyfriend. The family won't let him go to the funeral or ever see his spouse's body again. They've kicked him out of their apartment. It wasn't his name on the lease. So he's just sitting there, singing their favorite song to an empty bed. It's the last time he'll get that close to his husband. The nurses didn't have the heart to tell him to leave yet. He's been there for hours.""
Singapore's greatest flaw is not its inability to debate. It's greatest flaw is its inability to confront. We've lived too long in a city where the homeless are out of plain sight, religious and racial sensitivities get undiscussed but somehow acted upon, and a magic vacuum cleaner exists to santise our words, thoughts and deeds so no difficult questions ever have to be dealt with, merely discussed.
I wonder what I would do if I was there at the hospital. Don't you?
(Hat Tip to Zach for putting this link up on his blog, and for pointing out that Mr Sullivan is a conservative, not a Republican.)
Monday, April 30, 2007
Yet, I suffered no fools. What I found was family, filling a void in me that I never thought I had.
You don't pick family. So it was with my fellow swordsmen. In my mind, I begin to see my fellow swordsmen take on roles. The strong father. The doting mother. The adventurous eldest brother, always up to some new fascinating activity. The uncle always there for you when you couldn't go to your parents. The spoilt kid sister everyone just loved. The loner middle brother, up to his own antics but somehow never far. The elder sister/mini-mother. The ah-beng cousin.
They are family. I don't know how it happened but they are. You don't choose family, after all.
You only choose what they mean to you.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
"Why do you do this to yourself?"
I jokingly responded, "Continuing legal education."
Let me now risk becoming un-funny by explaining my joke.
- Trial by combat was an accepted form of resolving disputes, imported into England by the Norman conquest.
- It may have been historically acceptable to use champions to fight on behalf of the litigant.
- Hence, the first lawyers might have been one of these judicial duelists.
Yes, I know. I'm hilarious.
Two interesting points. The right to claim trial by combat is part of English common law, repealed by an act of English Parliament in 1819. I noticed an article in Wikipedia regarding the possibility of this trial being claimable under American common law. An example of English case law principles being adopted into American jurisprudence would be the Rule in Shelly's Case.
The argument is as follows. America declared independence in 1776 - prior to the repeal of trial by combat. Given that America was a seperate sovereign state before the Act was enacted, the Act cannot affect the state of common law in America after it was adopted from British common law. Congress has obviously never repealed this expressly.Would this argument work in Singapore?
Singapore has the opposite problem - it may have been a separate sovereign state before the UK Act of Parliament was passed. Even so, I'm not quite sure what the legal position is. My problems are as follows.
- The Second Charter of Justice in 1826 is interpreted specifically to import all English statutes and legal principles into Singapore. The statute abolishing wager of battel (trial by combat as it was known in England) was enacted in 1819. Clearly the statute would be part of Singapore law.
- Section 4(1) of the Application of English Law Act enacted in 1994, however, clearly repeals all enactments by the Parliament of England, save for a few. I am fairly certain the act repealing trial by combat is not one of the statutes preserved under the Application of English law Act.
- Section 3 of the Application of English Law Act specifically preserves English common law "so far as it was part of the law of Singapore immediately before 12th November 1993".
- The question therefore is whether trial by combat was a part of Singapore law "immediately before 12th November 1993". On one hand, the portion of Ashford v Thornton allowing trial by combat was expressly repealed by Parliament before it became part of Singapore common law. One can then argue that this case did not become part of Singapore common law.
- On the other hand, the portion of Ashford v Thornton that stands for the proposition that all law stands until expressly repealed was never repealed by an act of parliament - only the portion allowing wager of battel. Therefore applying the principle of Ashford v Thornton, trial by combat in Singapore is not repealed because the Application of English Law Act repealed the repealing enactment!
Anyone want to hazard a guess?
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Today, my attention is on how our love for narrative have essentially screwed up our lives.
Much has been said in the blogosphere about the Minister's pay rise. I will not repeat arguments about benchmarking, or the audacity of the Government to begrudge $290 a month to the needy while voting for a massive pay rise for themselves. Hat tip to Intelligent Singaporean, which has a fairly comprehensive listing of all the blogs discussing this issue.
If the Singapore Government insists on comparing itself with a corporation, then let it. I'm perfectly happy giving them enough rope to hang themselves with. After all, the issue of executive compensation will only demonstrate how much of the existing discussion on ministerial pay is based on myth.
In the late 90's and early 00's the issue of rising CEO and executive compensation has been debated to death. CEO compensation is spiralling out of control. Shareholders often wonder if what they are paying for actually translates into gains for a company. They would be right. The business world is rife with examples of well-compensated underperforming CEO's.
The arguments for often cited for rising CEO compensation is an attractive one. Top talent deserves top money. The CEO makes or breaks the company after all - would you skimp on hiring a good CEO? There is something in our psyche, after all, that longs for a saviour.
The reality, however, is that the idea of a leader-hero is nothing but a myth. The sucess and failure of a company is more complex then the decision of one powerful man (or for that matter, a group of powerful men). Yet, when things go right, credit is claimed. When things go wrong, responsibilty is disclaimed. Such is the nature of men in power.
I submit that it is more important for us to grow a strong team than to grow strong leadership - something this process of paying top dollar for ministerial talent has completely undermined.
My question to the Government. Are you truly being pragmatic? Or is pragmatism just an excuse to pay yourself more?
Here's a second story that I think women have become too enamoured with - success. I will not be commenting much on this one. It still cuts too close to the bone. Suffice to say that I think it is not solely a woman's problem. I've experienced first-hand how it affects men too.
(Hat tip to Zach who found the link, and to Feministing who reported the story.)
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Monday, April 16, 2007
I hate antihistamines. They make me drowsy. How's a person supposed to work up righteous rage and smite heathens when he's drowsy? The best I could manage today was an indignant outrage.
I also lost the weekend sleeping off the antihistamines. No swordfighting, minimal gaming, and depleting my diminishing supply of Harry Dresden novels.
I think I'll go kill something now. If I just round up enough effort to be arsed about it.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Sunday dinner was supposed to be a simple affair. Miyabi at Raffles Town Club was promoting two lobster specials. Mummy received the flyer, and dragged the whole bunch of us for dinner. So far so good.
When we arrived there, guess what? No lobster. Promotion + no lobster = hissy fit throwing mom.
A scathingly-worded comments card, an email and a harassed floor manager later, we arrived again tonight for lobster. I couldn't resist peeking at the reservation list. Lo and behold, beside my mom's name - "Lobster Reserved".
We arrive at the entrance and the floor manager points at my father's sandals. Wrong dress code. Mummy is not to be denied and browbeats her way to the teppanyaki table. I roll my eyes.
As we are seated, we are served green tea. As the teacups were being placed on the table, I suddenly feel a scalding sensation on my left shirt sleeve. I turn around and I see steaming green tea emptied on my sleeve. Waiter turns a funny shade of white and disappears. The floor manager turns a funnier shade of pale. I lift my sleeve up until the tea cools, then check for burns.
Let's just say I'm glad they don't use scalding hot water for their tea.
Having had it up to my eyeballs in drama, I laugh off the spill and continue with dinner. Not five minutes after the spill, I spot a familiar face. Let's call them Mr and Mrs Chew - parents of an old friend of mine. I walk up to them, wet sleeve and all, to say hi.
They of course ask the question. I reply as honestly as I can. They deserve to know. The silence is defeaning right up to the point my brother steps up and Mr Chew asks him about his life.
When life gives you drama, you make ironic humour.